Wendy Chisholm

Stairs make the building inaccessible, not the wheelchair. Co-author of Universal Design for Web Applications. Strategist for Microsoft. @wendyabc at twitter.

Archive for the ‘peace’ tag

An Ode to Twitter

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(I performed this 24 March 2010 at the CSUN tweetup. Captioned video should be available in the future.)

An Ode to Twitter

A non-structured, non-lyrical ode to twitter…

140 characters

Listen!

Hear.

See.

Feel.

PERCEIVE.

Connection.

1,000s of people (or more?) talking about #accessibility.

# a 1 1 y

Do you say, “ally?”

We’re talking about access.

We’re building inclusion.

We’re connecting.

Able

To express our views.

Able

To change the world.

Able

To connect with others who are

Able

To connect with others who are

Able

To connect with us who are

Able

To be here tonight who are

Able

To hear, see, feel…

PERCEIVE a world where we are all

Able

To be.

To express.

To connect.

What of those who are not on twitter?

Don’t have internet access?

Don’t have access to a computer?

Some are given a voice on twitter, e.g. @invisiblepeople

…but many are not.

So many voices…

How do we harness the power of these 1,000s (more?) of voices into one large trumpet call for change?

Hashtags?

Where’s our Ashton Kutcher with millions of followers?

What’s the loudest way for us to challenge assumptions?

The most effective?

Should we stage twitter protests?

How do we become cohesive?

Can we reclaim or repurpose “disability” into an empowering word?

Can we think of twitter like a parade of thoughts that we inject with inclusion?

I want to recruit you.

What if we were “out” about our abilities?

Would it convince designers that people are more able, more varied than they assume?

Would they realize that they have more connections to a variety of abilities?

Our tribe created the innovations that iPhones and Androids rely on:

Onscreen keyboards,

Word prediction,

Screen magnification,

Speech recognition.

What our tribe does today will make tomorrow’s tools more flexible.

Make tomorrow’s tools…possible?

We rock!

Are we moving towards inclusion, one tweet at a time??

Will tweeting make more restaurants accessible to people who use wheelchairs?

Will tweeting encourage more people to add alt-text to images?

Will tweeting cause future technologies to include accessibility features in the alpha release?

Does tweeting raise awareness of accessibility issues with non-aware twitterers?

If not, why not?

This is my ode to twitter.

My ode to the tribe.

My ode to our connections and our innovations.

<3

Written by wendy

March 25th, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Inclusive Universe at Ignite Seattle

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The video from my IgniteSeattle presentation is live. Unfortunately, it is not yet captioned or transcribed. I’ll make sure both of these are available soon. Thanks to Randy for the quick turn-around on the captions and to castingwords.com for the transcript!

Written by wendy

February 10th, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Posted in presentations

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The Girl Effect

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I was so moved by The Girl Effect (video). I wish everyone would watch it. Here’s a transcript for those unable to view it. Note there is no speech during the video only music. The following words display briefly on the screen one or a few at a time. Where the words interact to create an effect, I’ve attempted to describe the animation to convey the message. Enjoy.

The world is a mess. Poverty. AIDS. Hunger. War.

So what else is new?

What if there were an unexpected solution that could turn this sinking ship around?

Would you even know it if you saw it?

It’s not the internet.  It’s not science. It’s not the government. It’s not money.

It’s (dramatic pause) a girl.

Imagine a girl living in poverty. No. Go ahead. Really. Imagine her.

Description: The word “girl” in large orange letters with the small, black words “flies” flying around like flies. “Baby” small and in front of her. The word “husband,” much larger than “girl” falls into the scene and looks to weigh heavily on her. “Hunger” pops up from below, pushing up “husband,” “girl” and “baby.” “HIV” pushes up from below.

[Back to words displaying on the screen one or a few at a time]

Pretend that you can fix this picture.

Description: The stack of husband, girl, baby, hunger, hiv appears. All of the words fall away except “girl.”

Ok. Now she has a chance.

Let’s put her in a school uniform and see her get a loan to buy a cow and use her profits from the milk to help her family.

Pretty soon, her cow becomes a heard. And she becomes the business owner who brings clean water to the village, which makes the men respect her good sense and invite her to the village council where she convinces everyone that all girls are valuable.

Soon, more girls have a chance and the village is thriving.

Description: A stack forms with the following words: Village, Food, Peace, Lower HIV, Healthier babies, Education, Commerce, Sanitation, Stability. The stack becomes so large that the top words have been pushed off of the screen. Stability flashes again briefly.

Which means the economy of the entire country improves and the whole world is better off.

Are you following what’s happening here?

Girl -> School -> Cows -> $ -> Business -> Clean H20 -> Social change -> Stronger economy -> Better world

It’s called the girl effect.

Multiply that by 600 million girls in the developing world and you’ve just changed the course of history.

Written by wendy

January 7th, 2010 at 1:04 am

Is web accessibility a human rights issue?

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A post from David Baron questions if web accessibility is a human rights issue.  Here’s a quick summary of some of his major points: He acknowledges that laws exist that give people with disabilities basic human rights and that on-line government services should be made accessible. He disagrees that Flickr should require all photos to have alt-text and he believes that requiring all web services and applications be accessible would stymie innovation. He calls people such as John Foliot and Matt May extremists and worries that “this community is in significant danger of being taken over by, or at least best known by, those within it who espouse such extreme positions that they risk causing the entire community to be ignored.”

David says, “It’s far better for accessibility to be the automatic result of writing HTML in the normal way rather than something that has to be done as an extra development step” Yes! That’s part of the goal of the W3C Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG). If the tools just produced accessible content, then voila. The web would be more accessible.

David wants us to explain why access to the web is a human rights issue.

Human rights refer to the “basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled.”[1] Examples of rights and freedoms which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education.

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights. Fetched 12 March 2009

Web services and applications are becoming the way that people participate in culture, buy food, work, and learn. Therefore, ensuring that they are accessible to all people is a human right. This is supported in the United Nations  Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that has been signed by 139 countries. Article 9 – Accessibility and Article 21 – Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information specifically mention services provided via the internet.

It’s important for us to recognize each other’s concerns. On the one hand we have technologists who want to create things to help make the world better–help people communicate more richly and quickly, to create technologies for self-expression and commerce. Rock on. We want you to innovate because you’re changing the world.  On the other hand we have people who want to use the technologies and to participate in society. When the technologists say, “Don’t make me think about accessibility, I want to be innovative.” The response from people with disabilities can be hostile because the message from the technologists is, “I do not value you enough to include you in my innovation.”

The funny thing about David’s post is that he mentions the invention of the telephone. Thomas Edison was hard of hearing and part of the reason he spent so much time experimenting was that he wanted a device to help him hear. For Edison’s invention to be complete, it took the help of another person involved in the Deaf community, Alexander Graham Bell, who in his experiments to understand speech,  invented the microphone. In both instances, inspired by friends and family who had hearing loss, they changed the world.

The irony is that these technologies changed the way we communicate so much, that people who are deaf were unable to participate and it was later that the modem (for the TDD) and other devices were developed. But, those tools were in response to the earlier inventions and have further changed the way we communicate.

Therefore, the exact worry that David has–lack of innovation–is exactly what we’ll avoid if people with disabilities *are* considered in the design and experimentation of new ideas!  So, see, we really *all* can get along and no one gets hurt. Come on folks, let’s go play and have some fun.

Written by wendy

March 12th, 2009 at 3:52 pm