Google Wave and Accessibility

Google Wave is “totally inaccessible.” According to Web Accessibility in Mind’s (Web AIM) Jared Smith.

Smith’s list of Google Wave’s inaccessible aspects is quite disappointing:

  • Alternative text is not provided for any images.
  • Background images are used to convey content.
  • Roles, states, and other accessibility properties are not defined.
  • There is no document or heading structure or semantics. None! Not even a list!
  • Form elements do not have labels or titles.
  • Keyboard focus indication is hidden, making keyboard navigation nearly impossible.
  • Most interactive elements are not in the tab order or do not respond to keyboard activation.
  • Keyboard focus is often trapped, requiring the page or browser to be closed to resume keyboard navigation.
  • The application becomes unusable and unreadable when text size is increased only slightly.

I concur with Smith’s hope that Google Wave will be made into an accessible product. It’s too bad that accessibility was not part of the initial framework of Google Wave. How many times do we have to experience something built with either brick/mortar or “1’s and 0’s” that is not accessible for all users? Ableism is so pervasive. C’mon Google…you can’t really be “great” if you’re not making great things for everyone to use.

Vimeo and closed captioning

Vimeo is not accessible for users with hearing impairments

Yesterday’s post on Vimeo, YouTube, accessibility and closed captioning was read, and commented on, by Blake Whitman, Director of Community at Vimeo. Please note that I do not have any ill will towards Vimeo. They make neat things. I just wish that they made them accessible…which really means that their “things” aren’t as neat as they could be.

According to Blake:

I thought I would respond here as I believe there may be a misunderstanding regarding our intentions. We care a great deal about closed captioning and we fully intend to provide such support as soon as we can assign developers to the project. While YouTube has large staff and ample resources, we are a small and dedicated team that works tirelessly to meet all of our users’ needs. We did not mean to offend you or anyone else who would like to see CC support on Vimeo, and we will develop a closed captioning system as soon as we are able to. We apologize for the wait.

Blake was responding to my comment on the lack of captioning technology for Vimeo videos. My comment was driven by a comment that Blake left on the Vimeo forums:

[Captioning] is a very big project and not something that can just happen overnight. We have a lot of higher priority features in the cue right now, and when we find the appropriate time, we will definitely look into offering CC support.

My question to Blake and the folks at Vimeo is how can you “care a great deal about closed captioning” while not actually actively supporting its development?

Continue reading Vimeo and closed captioning

Lack of intent doesn’t negate discrimination

A California state Supreme Court decision is being heralded as a victory by disability activists. The unanimous ruling changes past precedent and makes it possible for businesses to be sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act without proving the business did so intentionally.

Inland activist Ruthee Goldkorn said the ruling makes people with disabilities equal to other protected groups because no one else had to prove the discrimination was intentional.

“Let my people in is not a complex concept,” said Goldkorn, who runs No Barriers disability access consulting and serves on the executive board of Californians for Disability Rights.

via Disability activists hail state Supreme Court ruling

A lens of -isms

lens of isms

via Luke Sugie – Engineering Social Justice: Why not use a lens of -isms?

A typical tactic I’ve seen deployed against those who bring up issues of race, sex, class, ability, etc. is for the speaker to be accused of “always seeing racism everywhere” or “promoting the feminist/anti-racist/anti-classist agenda” and therefore unable to provide an “objective” critique of something.

This particular tactic has been used against posts on my blog more times than I can count.

Frankly, we should be able to move beyond this stage into the stage where we evaluate the claims people make — all people, feminist, anti-racist or not — by the evidence used to support them, rather than seeking to destroy credibility of the people that proclaim them.

Evaluating claims does not seem to be part of the process (although I deeply wish that it was) for folks who enjoy deploying the “you see it everywhere” trope.

Community forum series

Daily Barometer Community forum series isms at Oregon State University

I was in Waldo Hall about a month ago when I came upon a larger version of this poster. I’m a fan of inverted black and white posters as they remind me of my graphic design days in Chicago.

The poster was advertising a community forum to discuss “isms in media.” I moved a little closer and read the list of “-isms.” Sexism, racism, ableism and classism. Okay, those are all forms of oppression. What? Why was alcoholism on this list? It just did not make sense to me as it did not fit with the rest of the items on the poster. And where oh where was heterosexism? A list of institutionalized oppressions and a disease. I do not understand why alcoholism was included…?

The Daily Barometer, Oregon State University’s student newspaper, has had yet another year where the paper prints something racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. and then attempts to do a better job (usually folks of color start appearing in the photographs on the front page during Winter term). It’s a cycle and the pattern has occurred since I moved to Corvallis in 2004 and became a member of the OSU community. Year after year a student editorial board and their lackluster faculty advisor bring about copious amounts of harm to the community, apologize and then attempt to rectify what happened in the fall. I can understand that student editorial board members come and go, but the faculty advisor remains…

Continue reading Community forum series

University of Michigan + Ableism

University of Michigan
The University of Michigan‘s Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor is apparently in violation of the American’s with Disabilities Act. A letter sent to the University of Michigan by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) (6MB PDF) informed the university that three complaints had been filed alleging that the stadium is “not accessible to or usable by individuals with mobility impairments.” The OCR determined that the University of Michigan was in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Continue reading University of Michigan + Ableism

The Meritocracy Myth

The Meritocracy Myth I’ve been mulling over a few subjects that have been making appearances on my site as of late. The subjects are white privilege and the meritocracy myth a.k.a. “pull yourself up by the bootstraps and inequality vanishes as soon as the laces are tied.”

I’ve written about white privilege and the meritocracy myth before but I feel that I need to add a few more bits of content.

I’d like to thank Dennis at Rhetorical Wasteland for spurring me on to continue to post about the same thing…over and over again.

In addition to D’s encouragement, I received this comment/email today (which actually encouraged me to create this post):

…yes, I am white, and no nothing was given to me. The scholarships I had in college – academic (i.e., merit-based) based, not because they were promised to white people. The grades I earned – because of hard work, not because the professor favored white people. The job I hold now, I earned because of my experience and background, not because I am white.

…And if you do not believe in pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, then perhaps you should more attention to the people who have achieved success in this country by their own hard work.

pull yourself up by your bootstraps

In response to that sentiment, I present the following comic, excerpts and links regarding the meritocracy myth…

Continue reading The Meritocracy Myth

Blackboard Community System

Blackboard Community System

Blackboard had an amazing booth at the NASPA/ACPA Joint Meeting in Orlando. It was the size of small house and it looked like one too! Inside their mini-mansion, the folks from Blackboard were demoing their portal solution, the Blackboard Community System.

Continue reading Blackboard Community System

bell hooks at Lewis & Clark College

bell hooks photo

Here is the audio recording from bell hooks‘ talk at Lewis & Clark College from February 1, 2006 [88 MB MP3].

Angela Davis

Angela Davis
Angela Davis was the keynote speaker for a recent social justice conference at Oregon State University. The Your Voice, Your Conference: Awareness, Solidarity, and Action explored “how systems of oppression impact our lives and communities.”

I think I have a social justice crush on Angela Davis. More than 1,000 people attended her talk at Oregon State. Two professors from OSU had the privilege of being her students at UC Santa Cruz. Angela Davis could have talked for a week and I think we all would have listened.

Angela Davis‘ talk covered many topics including: historical memory, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Condoleeza Rice, George Bush, Affirmative Action, Diversity, Marriage, Activism, Racism, Critical Awareness and Prison Systems.

Davis talked about the importance of “historical memory” and the Civil Rights Movement. “The figure of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been set aside and isolated and represented as the lone historical figure, so everyone else who participated in the Civil Rights Movement falls away.”

Davis mentioned that she took umbrage with the term “diversity.” She said that “Diversity is difference that doesn’t make a difference.” Her comments were extremely relevant for institutions of higher education. Enrolling students of color, women, students with disabilities, lgbt students, and students with high financial need does not mean that racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia/heterosexism, and classism will simply disappear. However, “diversity” is thrown around as if it’s a magic anti-oppression elixir. Without social justice oriented, anti-oppression oriented, anti-racist oriented educational efforts, diversity cannot affect change amongst members of the dominant paradigm.

Apparently, both Condoleeza Rice and Angela Davis grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Davis mentioned that people often attempt to refer to Rice as her “homegirl” (cue laughter from 1,000 people) because they share the experience of growing up in the Jim Crow south.

According to Davis, “Rice narrates her life as triumph over racism.” Davis said she needs to constantly “disassociate her story” from Rice’s story. “How can I claim my story is a triumph? We’ve won some victories..some important victories…, but from the time I was quite small, I learned from my mother that it was about collective victory…community triumph, not about an individual rising above the rest. Affirmative action was a strategy designed to enable communities to move forward, collectives to move forward.”

I attempted to record her entire talk, but my pda wasn’t working correctly so I have over an hour of audio that I pieced together from 40 audio snippets.
The fidelity isn’t the greatest but the message is amazing.

“The victories that we win are not always the victories for which we fought.” — Angela Davis

Full audio file [mp3]