Access is the same for non-disabled people as disabled people. You wouldn’t hold a meeting on the 10th floor with no lifts, or where there was nowhere to sit, or in pitch blackness or even where all documents were given out in Braille.
Last year I consulted on a Social Care Institute for Excellence (Scie)web resource project. I predominately looked at the usability of the access-wiki website however my personal/research experience of accessibility was also put forward. As a result of this and other work  Scie have recently launched a Making events accessible web resource (it is no longer referred to as a wiki) . The aim of the web resource is to help people plan events and meetings within the social care field that are accessible to people who use services. However I feel the findings presented within the web resource should be considered by all event organisers. The Making events accessible resource can be found here: http://www.scie.org.uk/publications/accessibleevents/index.asp
 This resource was written by Fran Branfield from the suggestions and comments made by people who use services on SCIE’s access-wiki website. The web access-wiki was usability and accessibility tested by consultants which in turn affected the delivery of the final resource.
I’ve been a BSL learner for last 2 years and I’m in the process of completing a Level 2 BSL certificate at hfals. During this time I have gathered a comprehensive list of BSL resources that I will now share with new, current or future BSL learners, which I hope you will find useful.
This resource will cover BSL websites related to: information, news, mobile apps, TV, events, dictionaries, books and Twitter.
Sign Post BSL Britain’s biggest supplier of British Sign Language (BSL) on-screen services for all platforms, including television, video, CD-ROM, DVD, film and the Internet http://www.signpostbsl.com/
Actual Sign deaf-led organisation providing a range of training and assessment programmes in BSL-related topics http://www.actualsigns.com/
Hearing Times only national UK newspaper for deaf and hard of hearing people, their relatives and friends, audiologists and professionals in the hearing industry and equipment manufacturers and dispensers. – http://www.hearingtimes.co.uk/
I am now coming to the end of my PhD in HCI with an a11y and UX focus so I need to update my UX portfolio which I found a challenge i.e. asking myself questions like: What should I add? How should I sell myself appropriately? what should it look like? how long should it be? etc.
Over the last couple months I have put such questions to many professional UXer’s and attended a few events that attempted to answer said questions. However everyone seems to have different opinions/expectations of what makes a successful UX portfolio.
So I propose @UXsurgery an interactive workshop-based meetup for professional UXer’s to attempt to tackle these questions. The meetup will be structured as a creative workshop, taking place at City University London. It will begin with clear/concise presentations from strong UX people with experience creating successful UX portfolios, followed by a surgery where attendees can share and comment on each other portfolios (within a roundtable/creative/friendly setting) and also ask questions from the expert presenters. The aim is for attendees (including me) to leave the meetup feeling confident about the future directions of their UX portfolios.
My question to you is: would you be interested in attending this event? (please vote below):
If you have any questions please tweet me via twitter @UXsurgery.
On 17-18 June 2011 seven people came together at a 2 day accessibility hack event to work on “Spotted” an android app directed at the older population. The team consisted of Lucy (Gransnet member), @sunfirejazz (Google Developer), @maccymacx, Joe, @francisclarke and the idea owners Denise from @EnabledBy and Alison from @PeskyPeople. The project was culmination of two ideas On the go and Accessify Place that were concerned with how a wide range of people experience difficulties accessing everyday goods, services & venues. The motivation for the app was centred around our aging population (2033 23% of the UK will be aged 65+ and 5% will be 85+ additionally there are currently 10 million disabled people and 5million are over 65+ and 40% of which have experienced access difficulties in the last 12 months*). Spotted provides a solution by allowing older people and people living with disabilities to share public examples of good/bad design/access of goods, services and venues through the use of photos and or text descriptions. These are then categorized as Love, Hate and Spotted and then sent to Enabled By Design (for products) and GoGenie (for services and venues). The idea also identified carers, friends and family of older people, people living with disabilities and people with an interest in inclusive design as secondary contributors.
During the two-day hack the team produced a Proof of concept (photo above), Interactive Mockup (video above) and a working prototype (video below), all of which was tested by our GransNet member Lucy.
At the end of the hack Denise and @sunfirejazz presented Spotted to Interactivism attendees (see slides below) and as a result we WON the Interactivism Granset Prize 🙂
*All stats offered was gathered by Denise from @EnabledBy.
With 2011 now underway I thought I would briefly summarise 2010. It was a busy yet creative year were I predominately focused on my PhD research, this seemingly ENDLESS task will likely consume much of my time this year. I achieved a lot: completion of 2 studies: interviews and observations including research ethnic’s (and we all know how lengthy this can be), MPhil to PhD transfer examination, countless paper submissions which led to a major conference acceptance, and constant academic reading among other items. 2010 was also a year for sharing my research and reaching out to charities and disability and accessibility community via presentations and seminars, HCID CP Day, demo session and most surprisingly an unconference. These opportunities enabled me to meet and work alongside fantastic people whom had different experiences and insights of which I highly value. 2010 also presented the opportunity to regularly volunteer at user-led organizations directed at young adults with disabilities, learn British Sign Language (BSL) and par take in charity running e.g. Sports Relief 3 Mile run, Race for Life 5k and British 10K run. Furthermore, personally 2010 allowed me to expand on some of my ‘odd’ interests mainly concerning all-things Apple, Wii gaming, Star Wars, Vampires (books, films and TV shows etc.) and most importantly Guinea Pigs. I can now officially state that most, if not all, of my social media friends are aware of these ‘interests’ and are likely frustrated with my constant chatter; but having obtained a overshare badge on foursquare, this is unlikely to change – sorry :). But 2010 also presented challenges e.g. constant Crohn’s disease flare ups, a family bereavement, a distressing motorbike accident, being a carer with limited support etc., such challenges did not prevent me from pushing forward but provided strength and persistence – these acquired attributes are highly valued and will be undoubtably drawn on in the coming year. I hope that 2011 will bring exciting web accessibility research and technology, new apple products 🙂 and most importantly happiness and success. I will end this mini blog by wishing all those who read this a prosperous 2011.
Delving into the world of web accessibility in 2008, I noticed that there wasn’t much work being done concerning web users with motor impairments, especially users with cerebral palsy. This included academic writing, public literature, events/gatherings and web media e.g. popular #a11y Twitter hash tag. These sources can be considered the life blood of the web accessibility world especially for new comers, as they provide theory, understanding, practice and most importantly a11y community engagement. As the first year of my PhD came and went I found that my research: examining the involvement of people with cerebral palsy in online social networks; was rather a niche area with limited a11y community interest, often leading to the question:
Why is it when I look for web accessibility projects I usually come across solutions directed at end users who are visually impaired? These solutions are often based on screen readers and usually call upon participants who are visually impaired
As some researchers would sit back and continue there work without giving such a lack of interest much thought. I felt that to make a difference these users experiences and challenges when using web technology needed to be brought to the attention of the a11y community. Conveniently (or maybe fate) on a mid-January sunday evening a tweet containing a #a11ybos hash tag appeared in my twitter timeline; being my usual self “nosey” I tweeted its creator @Jennison for a description of the hashtag. I was informed that it was an a11y unconference taking place in Boston, U.S. on the 15th May 2010 . According to Wikipedia an “unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered on a theme or purpose. The term “unconference” has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid one or more aspects of a conventional conference, such as high fees and sponsored presentations” . I was intrigued by such an event and thought this could be the platform to engage the a11y community. So I tweeted to see if anyone was considering doing such an event in London. Over a space of a week I received lots of responses, however they were not as expected. Most tweets took the view of: thats a brilliant idea, when and where is it going to be?, it appeared that I had put myself forward as coordinator.
My response to this was I’m unsure if I can do this, will I have the time etc. However, I have never been one to walk away from a challenge. So, after many tweets, DM’s and informal meetings with fellow a11y folk, #a11yLDN aka Web Accessibility London was born .
Within days Twitter lists were created: a11yLDN and a11yLDN-Organizers; along with a Google group to encourage discussions and post ideas . The meetings began on 11th March at @cinteractionlab, after which the official @a11yLDN twitter account was created. In total there were six 1.5 hour meetings where all aspects of a11yLDN were discussed especially its motor impairment theme. It was agreed the unconference would focus on web accessibility from the perspective of users with motor impairments however it would also consider issues of cognitive impairment and the wider disability population.
With help from Jim O’Donnell, Alison Smith, Graham Armfield, Raj Arjan, Janet Stollery, Angela Kounkou, Doria Pilling and Helena Sustar , I was able to launch free ticket sales on 21st July  and shortly after the official website . From that point, time appeared to speed up, tickets were sold out within 8 days and in under 2 weeks over half of the presentation slots were taken. My attention was then turned to sponsorship, thankfully City University London offered their Northampton Square College Building as a venue and Pesky People, Talk About Local and Coolfields sponsorship allowed for a “light lunch” (those who attended should get the joke) and other overhead costs – I cannot express how grateful I am.
Well… the 21st september 2010 came and with less than 2 hours stress induced sleep the unconference was here. There were over 60 attendees from all over London, UK and even a few from the EU. Talks and workshops were vast and well attended, starting with an introduction to accessibility and motor impairments by Graham Armfield and I, followed by 5 slots offering short presentations and long discussions including: Karen Mardah’s “Technical Communication and Inclusion”; Jamie Knight’s “My iPad, Talking to me and for me”; Martin Kliehm’s “Of Unicorns and Alligators – HTML5 Accessibility”; Léonie Watson and Artur Ortega’s “Discovering the world of modern screen readers”; and a web panel by Ian Pouncey, Jim O’Donnell & Sandi Wassmer “Inclusive Design, Accessibility & Open Web Standards”, plus many more. In total 14 talks were given by well establish a11y folk, and a @cinterationlab tour was offered by Raj Arjan. A full list of the days events can be found at: http://a11yldn.org.uk/time-and-location.
I personally feel the unconference was a success, yes there were issues such as wifi failure, a late lunch and an over looked presentation, but through all the stress I feel that these problems were overcome quickly and responsibly – nothing is ever perfect and a11yLDN was no exception. However, I feel that the ‘A Team’ and I achieved an amazing feat and the unconference achieved what it was set out to be:
A 1-day event that will have a motor impairment theme, as it is believed they are a widely under-represented population within web accessibility. However, the unconference will also consider cognitive impairments and the wider-disability population. The event will be structured with short presentations and workshops that have ‘longer’ discussions, i.e. a place for people to learn from each other. It is directed at end-users, web designers and developers (web accessibility and UX), editors and authors, accessibility specialists, universities and companies, charities and more specifically the movers and shakers of web accessibility.
Finally, over the last couple of weeks a few people have asked me for advice in organizing unconferences in other cities and countries, well here’s my answer: 1) unconferences are stressful but reaching out to your field in this case the a11y community is invaluable, so please do not attempt it alone; 2) using a creative approach e.g. post sticks and boards in meetings can easily encourage discussions and engagement; 3) embrace social media e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc. as they can encourage participation from far a field, however please do not focus solely on these methods as face to face communication can often iron out issues quicker; 4) things usually go wrong so try to plan for every eventuality but remember nothing is ever perfect we are human after all and we have the ability to learn from our mistakes; and finally 5) choose a subject that you are passionate about as it will take up a lot of your time.
I end this blog with some good news 🙂 following feedback given via the a11yLDN feedback webpage, twitter, in-person and email, I am pleased to announce that this is not the end of a11yLDN. It is to become an annual unconference and the next is scheduled for September 2011 (further information to follow).
I look forward to watching the a11y unconference movement spread. See you at @a11yLDN 2011!
With a To-Do list that increases daily, I often demote tasks that aren’t directly related to my PhD, unfortunately this has been one of those tasks. I was asked to write a blog about a demo session I ran at @cityuni_hcid on 8th June 2010, better later than never I guess.
— On May 28th 2010 I brought my iPad to @cityuni_hcid were it sparked considerable interest, I suspect it was because at the time it was one of the very few within @CityUniLondon. For the next week I found myself answering the same questions: what do you use it for? what sort of apps are available? is it worth spending £427+?. As a result, I decided to run a small demo session inviting @cityuni_hcid researchers to try the iPad and ask questions all in one go.
To ensure the session was interesting, esp. for researchers waiting to use the device, the following was asked: iPad, can it benefit the cerebral palsy community?. It’s purpose was to enable the researchers to identify potential apps and or areas the iPad could be used to benefit users with cerebral palsy. To stimulate discussion I carried out an impromptu study that observed 2 iPad users with cerebral palsy. Photos and video clips were recorded via my iPhone 3GS and littered throughout the @cinterationlab. Unsurprisingly, the video clips appeared to encourage discussion more so than the photo’s, so I thought I would share it with you…
Some of the benefits identified included: rehabilitation e.g. PocketPond app increased dexterity over the course of the observation; eLearning e.g. iBooks app and Memory Cards app provided independent learning; independent input especially when shopping (inbuilt Safari) and communicating was discussed by both participants as key to their iPad use; arts e.g. Granimator app provided creativity and obviously entertainment e.g. Need for Speed Shift app.
There are many other benefits discussed and considerably a lot more that I can think of now, but it would be interesting to know what you think: iPad, can it benefit the cerebral palsy community?. Please feel free to leave a comment.