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)
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)
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: 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)
I've left Tufts DCA after the longest tenure I've had at a job to become a support engineer at Safari Books Online. Among other things, this means that after nearly a decade, I've left academia for private industry.

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

I want to talk briefly about my career trajectory. )
[Note] I snark; Safari does just fine, online tech books being a popular item even before you get to all the reference book contracts. Though after a decade in academia, my scales for what is considered financial success are all off. Academic institutions measures success not by quarterly profit, which can be low, but by the size of the endowments they sit jealously and often uselessly upon like learned Smaugs.[back]
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
  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)
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.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
My friend Jeanette needs your help. This is a letter from my friend Jeanette Beal, a blind Assistive Technology Specialist. Repost, link, let us know if you can help with publicity/media or legal aspects. If you do repost, please repost in full without cutting or summarizing.
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
[personal profile] sanguinity / [tumblr.com profile] sanguinarysanguinity recently reposted Chrystos' "Those tears," and it got me thinking about how differently derailing and appropriation plays out when it comes to the quest for accessibility. In disabled spaces, of course derailing and outsider claims of authenticity & knowledge happen. "I'm myopic so I understand blindness," "Oh, I get obsessive compulsive as well, I totally have to check that the oven is turned off before I can leave the house," "Man, my boss was a jerk today, and I am so out of spoons," "I'm sore from typing I totally get it," "I'm such a napper; I totally get CFIDS," "I just love signing, we should talk so I can show you how much I've learned!"

(The management refuses to state how many of these she personally has said on the grounds that doing so will incriminate her.)

(Also I am not intending to disability police with those quotations. PWD can say those exact same words, and if somebody says they have a disability than they do. My concern is not with trying to police people who say they are disabled, but with people who will willingly say they are not at all disabled but also insist that the general wear and tear of being a human being in the world makes them completely understand what it is to be disabled.)

But the weird thing about disability is that because of the very nature of human bodies, their frailty that makes some people choose to use the label "TAB", meaning the "Temporarily Able-Bodied" when referring to people who do not have disabilities, it means that in some senses the outsider intrusions can actually be useful. Whenever upper management breaks a leg, offices suddenly start seeing automatic door opener buttons and cleared paths to elevators. When entitled brogrammers get sore hands and have to take a break from mousing, they often become more respectful of the need to use alternative input devices (except for those who are privileged enough they can afford to hire typists and think everyone else with RSI should do the same grr argh). When I had a vitreous detachment bad enough to impress my optometrist but still a normal side effect of aging, I started to appreciate the difference between correctable and uncorrectable vision problems in a way that walking around without my glasses could never explain to me (because I can always just put them back on).

Of course, it can go the other way. "Well, I had the flu, and I still came to work [EDITOR'S NOTE: oh please no!], so I don't see why you can't work with CFIDS." "I broke both my legs and still never needed a seat on the bus, so I don't see why you need one." "I can get around my house with my glasses off, so why do you need a dog to get to work?" Not all people are willing to put any effort into empathy.

But still, I see how that outsider invasion can have some utility when it comes to disability, in a way that doesn't apply when you are talking about, say, white women inserting themselves into spaces for women of color, or cis straight folks inserting themselves into queer spaces. In a disability space you can potentially draw on that claim that human physical frailty creates connection in order to push (temporarily) able-bodied folks to change their physical spaces. They still might be invading spaces which ought to be safe spaces for PWD, but some utility can be found for that. Meanwhile, if I, as a white woman, insert myself into a WOC space, I don't see how the women of color can extract any utility from my invasion.

This is me thinking aloud, and I'm not sure my thoughts have boiled into anything useful as yet.
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
is Disability and Posthumanism in Science Fiction and Fantasy for Children and Young Adults.

I suppose if one of you gets to it before I do I'll be grateful it exists for me to read. Because I want to read it almost as much as I want to write it.

[livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman, [personal profile] astern, though? Neither of you better write this wthout me. Because this book, first conceived of in an IM conversation after an inspirational session (Collective Scholarship in Digital Contexts) at the 2012 Society for Cinema and Media Studies meeting in Boston, would be so much fun to write.

...I wish any of us had reasonable time management skills.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (loc)
I'm used to thinking of myself as having an invisible disability, because out in the real world, I do. It just occurred to me that in the Internet, where nobody knows you a use a wheelchair unless you tell them so, my disability has a tendency towards the visible. I probably let through about 5% of my dictation errors in blog posts but 40% of my dictation errors in online chat; people who regularly interact with me chatting online have learned to decipher the bizarre word salad that sometimes comes through. If I'm communicating (chat, Twitter, e-mail) on a mobile device, my recognition errors get even weirder, because the mobile recognition has its own strange features.

So to people with whom I communicate online, I have this big obvious disability. But in person, I pass for able-bodied. Sure, I'm usually carrying this very strange bag around my waist, and I'm usually not clicking away with my laptop in public, and sometimes I'm wearing one of those Bluetooth headsets that has a big flashing light in order to make you look like a jerk who spends all day on a Bluetooth headset. But I don't look not able-bodied, I just look strange.

It's just odd that most people pass on the Internet, whereas for me, the Internet is one of the only places I don't pass. (Technically I could pass if I proofread better, but proofreading is really difficult in IM/IRC.)


On an entirely unrelated note, I just registered for my first ALA Annual. It seems terrifyingly large, but I'm required to go for the Odyssey committee. (Odyssey Committee FTW!) Booking my flight on Egencia was a wonder of accessible web design, where even the seat selector was fully keyboard accessible. The ALA Annual scheduling website, however... Not so much. I suppose it's no surprise. Every few years ALA redesigns all of their websites to be worse than they were before. :(
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My last post was several weeks ago, about my disappointment with Apple. In the spirit of fairness, I must update that story.

Rather inexplicably to me, that post went, in a small way, viral. (I suppose that explains the trolling the post was getting, which at the time to me came completely out of the blue.) It must have showed up on some Mac message boards, and eventually got forwarded to people in Apple administration. Kudos to Apple that they thought the situation warranted contacting me; a few days after the post (early December) I received a response to my initial e-mail from early October. The e-mail was not from somebody in the accessibility team, to whom I had initially reached out, but from somebody on the customer relations team.

Over the next several days, I spoke at length with a helpful, professional, kind Apple customer relations employee. She was as helpful as one could reasonably be under the circumstances. She asked me what I really wanted at this point, and I told her that primarily what I'd just wanted was the opportunity to buy an iPhone. She helped me through the process and made it as painless -- as it were -- as possible. The only other thing I wanted, I told her, was the knowledge that Apple was receiving my feedback about the difficulty of using the iPhone from the point of view of this one mobility impaired user. She assured me that my e-mail to the accessibility mailing list going unread was an unfortunate fluke.

Only time will tell if any of that was true. I've been saying since this new iPhone came that I wasn't sure if I was going to keep it, but I've tested my way all the way through my window of being able to decide to send it back, so I guess I've decided to keep it. Today I'll be putting together an e-mail for the accessibility group of questions, bug reports, and feature requests. That e-mail, again, is only from the point of view of this one mobility impaired user. I will also post those here, not in the spirit of complaint, but in the spirit of sharing with interested people about the different ways some people use devices.

I'm still really unsure about this phone. I've been at a pretty steady pain level since I got it, because there really is no way to use it without hurting myself. All of the accessibility features make it possible for me to use it, but not painless. Common sense would dictate that if a device is painful for me to use, I shouldn't use it, but there does seem to be a genuine utility to having a smartphone. I survived fine without a cell phone for years, but I will admit that NextBus is something of a killer app.

I can't shake the feeling that I'm making a foolish decision.

...Except that there's this vain hope, this little spark within me, that maybe my experience means I am actually more likely to be listened to by Apple when I send them my list of feature requests, and maybe by using this device I can improve the experience of using handheld devices for all people with mobility impairments. Or at least the people whose mobility impairments are similar to mine.

Anyway, again. I want to say thank you to Apple for responding to my complaint about being nibbled to death by inaccessible ducks with the courteous and professional handholding I received. I wish my initial inquiry had received a response, but I'm willing to accept for now that the situation was a fluke. Like I said, only time will tell.

I'm leaving comments closed on this post as well, because I'm going to link to it, in the spirit of fairness, from the prior post. That post is still generating hits, and I'm an extremely conflict-avoidant person. I don't want the trolls to follow the link and leave comments here.
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The always brilliant [livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman has a guest post up at The Rotund: "Fat Reader Singing". It's a great post about two books that I now have to put on my to-be-read list, about young adult books with successful, happy fat characters who don't lose weight. And apparently, if Rebecca is to be believed, fat characters with disabilities. And in one case, a fat character of color with a disability. It's as if it were okay to publish books with each character doesn't stand in for a single item in the Benetton circle of diversity!

She also links to a couple of responses I'd forgotten about to Scott Westerfeld's Missing Black Woman Formation, which I'm glad I reread. Although I still maintain that the Missing Black Woman Formation is endemic in middle grade adventure fiction, especially spy-fi, where there are way too many adventures where the hero is a white boy and his sidekicks are the white girl and the boy who has something that makes it impossible for him to be the hero (he's fat, Asian, poor, redhaired and freckled and comes from a large family and is clearly Irish Catholic even if that's never identified, black, not as smart as the hero, disabled, etc.). But even so, those posts about the MBWF make me want to go back and look again at all of those middle grade adventure books to see if I am fairly categorizing them, or their characters.

Actually, right now, off the top of my head, it occurs to me that I am ignoring Anne Ursu's Cronus Chronicles, which first of all has two protagonists, who are first cousins. And secondly, they're the white girl and the multiracial boy. In a fantasy book that's not about race, that's actually kind of a big deal.
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
Last night I attended the Cambridge, Massachusetts stop of the Diversity in YA tour, with Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, Deva Fagan, and Francisco X. Stork. I was impressed with the authors, but disappointed with the panel.

Putting the reason for my disappointment behind a cut )

On a related note, it's time for the third year of Nerds Heart YA, which builds dynamic long and short list of books that represent one of a series of relatively under publicized categories:

Specifically, the lists will consist of books that:
  • Were published in 2010
  • Have received minimum press on blogs
  • Feature characters, or are penned by authors, who fall within the following categories:
    • Person(s) of Color (POC)
    • GLBT
    • Disability
    • Mental Illness
    • Religious Lifestyle
    • Lower Socioeconomic Status
    • Plus-size



This year's shortlist has been chosen, and includes some very exciting books. Check it out!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've been going interlibrary loan-mad lately (my to be read list at worldcat has gotten a little out of control what with all of the books you people recommend), and I've just finished Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John, this year's Schneider family teen book award winner. The award goes to that book which "embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences" which is actually not what I think this book does. I think it's a young adult book about a girl who wants to go to college, who wants to have friends, who's decided to challenge herself by making a punk rock band succeed when she doesn't care about punk rock, who is deaf, who may or may not be interested in boys, who has family difficulties, who has to learn to see other people and their problems as well as her own. This book embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience as much as it embodies an artistic expression of the high school experience, of the first boyfriend experience, of the high school rock band experience. And that's what's awesome about it. Of course deafness is integral to the story, but so are all the other elements. Presenting this book as a disability story does it a disservice -- and yet that's why I read it. Y'all should read it, as well.

Also, the happy nappy bookseller keeps reminding me about the Nerds Heart YA bracket which is explicitly the opposite of a popularity contest.

To qualify for Nerds Heart YA 2011 a book must:

Have been published between Jan 1st 2010 and Dec 31st 2010

Contain significant characters that fit into at least one of the seven categories of under represented groups that the Nerds Heart YA organisers have identified, or have been written by an author who comes from within one of these groups of people

Be young adult fiction

Be a book that you feel has been under represented by book blog coverage.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I'd like to signal boost the community [site community profile] dw_accessibility. One of the things that's so awesome about dreamwidth is that the developers and style designers really care about universal design, and making the site equally usable and beautiful for people with disabilities. One of the ways they do that is by getting feedback from us, the users with disabilities.

It's important for all of us that when questions get asked in the community, those of us who have computing-based accessibility needs pitch in to answer. The most noticeable place we have a shortage is screenreader users; since studies show that there is no typical screenreader user, it would be really valuable to have more than one or two regulars answering questions about what is the best site design first screenreader users.

But we also need people with all kinds of other accessibility needs: voice users, keyboard-only users, people with visual processing disabilities, zoom users, deaf-blind users, people with cognitive disabilities, etc. Basically, if your disability means that site design and site coding have an effect on your ability to use and enjoy the site, you will be a welcome contributor over at [site community profile] dw_accessibility.

Thank you, awesome people. And please signal-boost as appropriate.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Two links today which were both partially inspired by the 20 year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

First, the depressing one: Via Jennison Mark Asuncion, Dennis Lembree identifies several accessibility gaps on the home page of the new section508.gov web site. The site was launched partially in celebration of the 20 year anniversary of the ADA, and some of the accessibility gaps Lembree finds are whoppers: overly styled text instead of heading tags, for example. As Jennison said, what does it say when the chief US gov agency promoting IT
accessibility is not where it needs to be with their own site?


But let's follow with a much more inspiring post: [personal profile] jesse_the_k: "20 Years and a Day for the Americans with Disabilities Act". This essay inspires me to see all the good we've done in two decades. From [personal profile] jesse_the_k:

So, thanks for my life, ADA: many mundane things, and a few great big ones.

The law is not enough; as Cal Montgomery taught me:
Discrimination is always illegal; only activism makes it unwise.


And something I don't say very often, because I'm still pissed off about certain comments about atheism, But thanks, George H. W. Bush, for signing the ADA into law. Because of that law, I have a job.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Kill Accessibility, a blog post by Gary Barber, made me put me head down on my desk and take several deep breaths.

Barber makes some excellent points about some of the limitations of the accessibility movement. He talks about how accessibility shouldn't be an afterthought, but incorporated into good web design and universal design. He talks about how for many, "accessible" has come to mean "for people with visual impairments". He talks about the weakness of the way checklists are used, and about the low social value of improving your website's checklist.

So why does Barber lose me at the very beginning of his blog post? His first content heading: "We are not Assistive Technology users." I repeat that: "We are not Assistive Technology users." He goes on to say The old UX catch call is never truer here – we are not the users. The disparity between us and the people we are really working for, with accessibility, is sometimes just too great for us to even get a idea of what it is like, no matter how many videos of people using assitive technology we see.

Who is this "we" about whom you are speaking, Able-Bodied Man?

Last weekend I was in a room full of accessibility professionals, about half of whom had visible disabilities. The director of the WAI has a disability. There are people with disabilities on all of the web accessibility mailing lists I'm on. That's not even counting the other parts of the web development community I interact with, the parts that don't have any particular concern with accessibility and yet still have a multitude of developers with disabilities.

We are here. You just aren't talking to us. You just aren't listening.

Maybe the first step in the accessibility community is to recognize that some members of your own community are also the users, and to listen to us when we speak. I don't speak for all computer users with disabilities. I speak for exactly one: myself. But if you don't even know that we are here, each of us speaking for ourselves, you sure as hell are not going to be able to serve anyone in the community.
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