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)
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: 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)
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)
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: 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)
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'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 [personal 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 [personal 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: 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 management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
This is the week for which I have taken a week of vacation time, and set aside for doing nothing but spending eight hours a day to get better at programming by voice. Among other things, this involves learning Emacs.

I are not braining today. /o\

(anyone who has favorite tips on Emacs for vim users, I would welcome sharing.)
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
After five awesome years, I'll be taking a hiatus from teaching my F & SF for children's and young adults class. I'm also going back to school for a third master's: computer science, this time. So that happened.

These are actually unrelated events, except inasmuch as I wouldn't be doing an MS program if I were still teaching. Once I realized I was taking a break from teaching, it occurred to me I'd have the time at last to take advantage of the free tuition benefit offered by my employer. That I went in about a week from "Maybe I should take some classes" to "You know what would be awesome? A degree program!" is par for the course of [personal profile] deborah. I would crack myself up if I didn't have to live with the aftermath of being me.

As I prepare for the mental shift from teaching master's students to being one, I think I might take some serious time to brush up my programming-by-voice skills. I haven't really spent any spoons on rewiring my brain for better dictation in years -- I don't use Natlink/Vocola or Utter Command or Dragonfly or even VoiceCode. When I was younger I was spending everything I had learning to function again, and then I knew all kinds of cruddy workarounds and just wrote terrible DNS scripting commands for Perl. And besides these days I can type a little.

I don't think my rotten VB workarounds and a little bit of typing will cut it for work + dreamwidth + grad school, though, so taking the time to buckle down and get better at dictating, while long overdue, is finally vital.
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