Using Relational Databases

Understanding how databases function and why they are important is key to doing much of the project work we do in the ADHC. Steven Turner of Web Services gave an intro workshop this week: “Using Relational Databases for Digital Research.” He covered some basics about what relational databases are, how they work, and why they are important for organizing data and building web-based projects. Here are resources from the workshop: video, slides, and handout of useful resources. Thanks, Steve!

Accessibility in Digital Humanities

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 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:

#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 Annual Convention sessions:

#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.”


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?”

Report from Jen Drouin’s TEI/Drupal September Brown Bag

Post by Crissie Johnson, UA Press

On September 13 Jennifer Drouin from the English Department discussed her ongoing Shakespeare au/in Quebec project in a presentation entitled “Challenges associated with CSS and XML in a Foreign Language DH Drupal project.” The goal of the project is to create a bilingual anthology of Québécois adaptations of Shakespeare written during the Quiet Revolution with cross-references to the Shakespearean works they draw from. This is an ongoing project created in the Drupal Content Management System, which was also used to create the new English Department website. Jen hopes to include critical content (both original and pulled from her forthcoming book, Shakespeare in Québec: Nation, Gender, and Adaptation), reflowable copies of approximately thirty plays, and links to the Shakespearean plays made available through the Internet Shakespeare Editions.

The site is in its early stages, and CSS created in InDesign has been created. Currently, Jenn is working on selecting a set of TEI tags for marking up the Québécois plays in XML. She is looking at the established manuscript and theatrical tag lists edited by Roma; however, it was suggested that she could still use one of the XSLTs provided by TEI rather than having to create everything from scratch. There was some question about whether in the interest of expediency the text of the plays to be studied should be uploaded as PDFs or more simplistic coding to make them quickly available as completely marking up the plays with cross reference will be a time-consuming task. The goal is for the Québécois plays to link to the Shakespearean text using the hover features as is done in the OED for cross-references. Jenn has found a plugin that allows for the direct import of XML, which she hopes will streamline this process.

Report from the August Brown Bag

Hello ADHC Community!

Thanks to all of you who came out on August 17 to hear about our plans for the coming year. I’m very excited and grateful for all of the support, volunteers, and suggestions about ADHC activities. Here’s a brief summary of the announcements that I made:

1) Events: We’re going to do a total of 15 events this fall: 3 guest speaker presentations, 8 workshops, and 4 monthly brown bag lunch discussions. I’ve sent out an events list to the ADHI listserv and information will also be available on the UA Events Calendar and the new website (once we launch it in the next few weeks).

Speakers: This fall, we are hosting three terrific speakers. Each speaker will give a formal presentation and then meet with a smaller group which I hope will include many of you!

9/26 Korey Jackson, ACLS Public Fellow, Program Coordinator and Analyst for Anvil Academic, will talk about open access publishing (co-sponsored by SLIS). For more information about Korey, visit:

10/11 Dave McClure, Lead Programmer for Neatline at UVA’s Scholars’ Lab, will talk about his center’s work and their recently launched tool Neatline (for making maps, timelines, etc with Omeka) For more information about Dave and Neatline, visit:

11/7 Lauren Klein, Assistant Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech, will discuss her use of data visualization to address silences in the Thomas Jefferson Archive (sponsored by the Summersell Center). For more information about Lauren’s research, visit:

Workshops: We’ve teamed up with Gorgas Information Services to offer 8 workshops this fall. Thanks to all of the ADHCers and GISers who volunteered to give workshops. Presenters/topics are:

Franky Abbott: Quick Tools for Data Visualization
Jason Battles: Intro to HTML5
Lindley Shedd: Planning Video and Audio Projects
Steven MacCall: Intro to Omeka
David Ainsworth: Using WordPress to Create a Class Online
Barbara Dahlbach/Mark Robison: Zotero and Refworks
Rebecca Johnson: Using Social Media in the Classroom
Sara Whitver: Hootsuite

Brown Bags: We are using brown bags as places to showcase the work of ADHC community members, interact with guest speakers, and discuss theoretical issues related to DH. Each brown bag will have a rotating discussion leader. For the fall:

September: Jen Drouin will show her TEI project and discuss goals, progress, and challenges.
October: Dave McClure will talk about Scholars’ Lab projects, past and present.
November: Lauren Klein will showcase a handful of her favorite digital humanities projects.
December: Jody DeRidder will lead a discussion about the issues and challenges of keeping digital works alive through the years.

2) Projects/Consultations
We have had a number of promising consultations with faculty and staff members interested in pursuing digital projects this summer (including some that continue from last year). In particular, we discussed the ADHC’s collaboration with the Office of Community-Based Partnerships to create a digital archive for the Black Belt 100 Lenses project. We hope to announce other projects as they proceed in near future.

3) General Outreach
We are redesigning the ADHC website and hope to launch in the next few weeks. We have also started a twitter account (@AlabamaDHC) and a new Facebook group (Alabama Digital Humanities Center). Please join if you are interested and feel free to recommend to others!

Your Helpful Suggestions:
We got a lot of great feedback at the brown bag. One of these suggestions–a facebook group recommended by Claire–has already been implemented. Others suggested topics for brown bags–metadata, community-based digital humanities projects, digital storytelling–that we have put on the brown bag list for the spring (thanks Heather and Janet!) I heard ideas for outside speakers, both in terms of particular people and topics. Several of you said that you would like to see specific DH projects shown and discussed at brown bags, which I have tried to incorporate for the fall and will continue to keep in mind for the spring. After the meeting, I also got a very helpful suggestion from Rebecca M. about presenting an “Introduction to Digital Humanities” event to address interested DH beginners campus-wide. I plan to follow-up on her idea and also work with Arts and Sciences to address new faculty (thanks Rebecca J.!)

Stay Involved!
We are trying out a number of new experiments this year and would love to have your support in planning and executing them. Here are some things we would really appreciate:

  • Keep attending events! Bring someone new to a brown bag or recommend workshops and speakers to interested people
  • If you feel comfortable, volunteer to lead brown bags or workshops, or recommend other people or topics
  • Send Franky recommendations for people or topics you would like to see in future speaker presentations
  • Refer colleagues to the ADHC for consultations, whether they are interested in DH generally, a particular tool, or are looking for resources to address a particular set of research questions
  • Blog about it! I’d love to have some coverage on the blog for events and DH topics more generally. If you are inclined to blog here, please let me know.

I look forward to seeing all of you this fall!