Accessibility in Digital Humanities

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On Thursday, January 10, Melissa Fortson Green gave a very informative brown bag about accessibility and its impact on digital resources and practices. Here is her blog post about resources from the presentation:

The sources referenced in my session, along with some related resources, are listed below. They are also available via the Diigo collaborative bookmarking site: mbfortson’s adhc_a11y Bookmarks on Diigo.

A pdf of my slide deck is available here: Accessibility & the Digital Humanities. I am happy to share it in alternate formats!

Accessibility at The University of Alabama

Office of Disability Services – The University of Alabama
The Office of Disability Services is the central point of contact for students with disabilities at UA and works “to ensure that University programs and services are accessible to qualified students with disabilities.”

Office of Equal Opportunity Programs – The University of Alabama
This office “works with University Administration, departments, and committees to ensure that University policies and programs comply with applicable nondiscrimination requirements” and “serves as the Campus Coordinator for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended, the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.” The Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act memorandum appears on the EOP website.

Technology and Learning Committee | OIT – The University of Alabama
The Teaching and Learning Committee, the University’s academic technology IT governance committee, “is currently working with the ADA Technology Compliance Working Group to develop a plan for the University of Alabama regarding technology accessibility in order to comply with new federal ADA regulations. The advisors for this project are the UA Compliance Officer, the Office of Disabilities Services, and the UA System Legal Office.”

Accessibility & Digital Resources

#a11y
#a11y is the Twitter hashtag for discussion of accessibility and technology (a11y is sometimes used as an abbreviation for accessibility; the 11 refers to the number of letters between a and y). Due to Twitter search limitations, users may need to use a search tool like Topsy to find some older tweets.

Giz Explains: How Blind People See the Internet | Gizmodo
August 2010 Gizmodo feature discussing how “the blind browse the same internet as everyone else, every day.”

How People with Disabilities Use the Web | Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
“This resource introduces how people with disabilities, including people with age-related impairments, use the Web. It describes tools and approaches that people with different kinds of disabilities use to browse the Web and the design barriers they encounter on the Web. It helps developers, designers, and others to understand the principles for creating accessible websites, web applications, browsers, and other web tools.” This document is an in-progress draft.

Web Accessibility Tutorial – Screen Readers | YouTube
This short video demonstrates how a screen reader “synthesizes words on the screen into spoken text.”

Accessibility Challenges & Solutions

Considering the User Perspective: A Summary of Design Issues | WebAIM
Outlines design challenges and solutions for users with disabilities.

Accessibility in DH

The following represent some of the conversations happening around DH and accessibility.

“Accessibility and the Digital Humanities”

Accessibility and the Digital Humanities | ProfHacker
ProfHacker post by Jen Guiliano, assistant director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, and George H. Williams, a regular ProfHacker contributor. This “call to digital humanists” asked: “What is your project doing to address accessibility for people with disabilities?”

Disability, Accessibility, and the Digital Humanities
George H. Williams posted a link to this survey in a comment on the ProfHacker post he co-authored with Jen Guiliano, Accessibility and the Digital Humanities.

“Disability, Universal Design, and the Digital Humanities”

Disability, Universal Design, and the Digital Humanities | Debates in the Digital Humanities
Open-access edition of George H. Williams’s “Disability, Universal Design, and the Digital Humanities,” published in Debates in the Digital Humanities. Ed. Matthew K. Gold. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

The Principles of Universal Design | Center for Universal Design
Defines universal design as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

Principles of Universal Design Quick-Reference | Design Research and Methods Journal
“A simple guide that explains and illustrates the principles of Universal Design (UD), providing specific guidelines for implementing UD in any project.”

About UDL | CAST
“Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.”

THATCamp Accessibility

THATCamp Accessibility 2012
THATCamp Accessibility 2012 was a one-day unconference exploring digital humanities, technology, and issues of accessibility. It was held October 27, 2012, online and at Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada. This Google doc lists the day’s sessions: bitly.com/Souw3b.

#thatcampaccess
#THATCampAccess is the Twitter hashtag used by THATCamp Accessibility participants. Due to Twitter search limitations, users may need to use a search tool like Topsy to find some older tweets.

MLA

MLA Annual Convention sessions:

#mla13dis
#mla13dis is the Twitter hashtag for discussion of 2013 MLA Annual Convention sessions related to disability. Due to Twitter search limitations, users may need to use a search tool like Topsy to find some older tweets.

MLA Commons group: Universal Design in Digital Environments | MLA Commons
MLA Commons group for those interested in making “the digital environment accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.”

Discussion

Valerie Fletcher on redefining disability: “Disability is a phenomenon of the experience that occurs by the individual intersecting with the environment, including physical, information, communication, social and policy environments.”

The authors of “Accessibility and the Digital Humanities” evaluate their “own development and design practices by keeping the following questions in mind”:

  • Are we building accessible sites and projects?
  • Are we delivering our content (code, publications, digital objects, digital tools…) in forms that allow for use by blind and low-vision people?
  • What do we need to know to integrate the work going on in braille and low-vision research communities into the work we are doing as digital humanists?

“Accessibility and the Digital Humanities” concludes with these questions:
“What is accessible design? What can we in the digital humanities do to improve the work we are already doing? And how can project directors evaluate projects and tools to recognize accessible-compliant design and development?”

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