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  1. 1. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 Janet Peters: I'm Janet Peters and I'm a project coordinator with the Great Lakes ADA Center. I want to welcome you on behalf of the Great Lakes ADA Center and the Pacific ADA Center, as we are hosting the Accessible Technology Webinar Series. We are hosting it on behalf of the National Network of ADA Centers, the National Network of ADA Centers provide comprehensive services for information, consultation, referral, resources and training on the American's with Disabilities Act. And we work with businesses, employers, government entities, service providers and individuals. And you can find more about us on our website that's on the slide or at Today's session is on, The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities. We are very pleased to have speaker Mike Paciello with us. Michael is the founder and the president of the Paciello Group, which does software accessibility consulting. He's been in the field quite a number of years. For more than 25 years, Mister Paciello has served as an international leader, technologist lecturer in the areas of emerging technology, usability, technical and legal standards and accessibility in 2006, Mike along with his colleague Jim Tobias, was appointed co-chair to the United States Federal Access Board's Telecommunication and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee. Mike was also invited by the UN, the United Nations ambassador, to speak on the theme of identifying core areas of opportunity to foster greater ICT accessibility for the UN global initiative for inclusive information and communication technologies event. Mike has received numerous awards and other recognition for his accessibility work and authored the book, Web Accessibility For People With Disabilities. We are very, very pleased to have him with us today. Just a couple of technical details, we are using a new conferencing system this time. This session will be recorded in our archives and if you've registered, you will receive and email with the link to that archive. We also value your feedback on this session and so there is a link to the evaluation form at the end of this session, as well as you'll receive it with the archive link. And with that, I'm going to turn it over to our speaker, Mike. And thank you Mike for joining us today and I think we're in for a great session, just one more thing, sorry. We will take questions at the end. So please try to hold your questions until the end. We'll leave plenty of time for Mike to answer our questions on this important topic. Thank you Mike and here you go. 1
  2. 2. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 Mike Paciello: Great. Thank you very much Janet and thanks everyone for coming today. Janet, if I could have you bring up the title slide first. As everyone knows today, the theme of our session is the power of social networking for people with disabilities. Just a quick note on that, there had been a title out there that was talking about the power of social networking sites and really social networking isn't about sites so much as it is about applications and really interaction, particularly communication as an IT or information technology. And as you can see on this title slide, really what I find most intriguing and most empowering if you will from the standpoint of people with disabilities, is that social networking gives us power that I think beyond anything that we've ever been able to realize before. The ability to build relationships across a number of different scenarios and boundaries, the ability to increase awareness around a topic that's very near and dear to our hearts across again, many horizons where it relates to different types of disabilities, the caretakers, professionals who are in the area of technology and disability and perhaps most emphatically that I've been able to witness over the last several months in particular, is the increase in voice. That is the ability for individuals with disabilities or those associated with them, are able to talk and speak out to the world, in a very globalized and universal way. So without further ado, why don't we begin with our first slide? The agenda slide Janet, next slide. So I'm going to cover six areas. Five really and then we'll have a conclusion. I'm going to give you a little bit of perspective of the disability landscape. What the world is like out there. Much of what I'll be talking about today is primarily from the perspective of information technology. Not so much the ADA kind of notion of things, but rather information and communication technology and where it stands for people with disabilities. Then I'll talk about the accessibility gap. Probably something that most of us are familiar with, the lack of accessibility or the inherent need to close the gap of accessibility in the information and communication world. The third area will be the emergence of social networking. Talk about the different types of social networking that are out there, some of the popular tools that are being used. As you can see in the fourth part, we'll talk about blogging, we'll talk about You Tube and we'll talk about micro blogging and a couple of other areas that I think you'll find interesting. And that includes that last point there, storytelling. Storytelling is a personal soapbox of mine and I'll talk just a little bit about that and how useful it's been to me and to some of my colleagues in the area of closing that gap between people with disabilities, in 2
  3. 3. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 particular software designers and developers. And then we'll have a conclusion. So let's move on to slide number one and talk a little bit about the disability landscape. So on the current slide is basically a map of the world and a map of the world help us to appreciate that really everywhere we go, disability is global. It's universal. Everyone in the world is impacted or affected in one way or another by, by disability. And what we want to try and do and what the thrust of today's discussion is, to leverage accessibility in the same way that disability is universal. If you look around the world today, certainly North America, we've had a number of different wins if you will, where disability awareness is concerned, increase in disability mandates like the ADA, Section 255 of the telecommunications act, Section 504 and Section 508 of the rehab act and a lot of other various mandates that have come out. In Canada, they have a common look and feel law; recently there's been the Ontarian accessibility law that has been updated. A lot of these tend to be technology driven laws, but again, the purpose towards increasing and increasing accessibility within the technology realm. You go over to Europe, there's an awful lot that's been going on, particularly over the last oh, five to ten years, as it relates to the rights of individuals with disabilities, technology and people with disabilities. Very soon you'll see some new legislation that's being promoted by the European community, very similar to our Section 508 here in the United States, which is essentially a procurement mandate to ensure that technology that is purchased by federal agencies is accessible and usable to people with disabilities. Areas like Japan have policy. They have the Japanese Industry Standards Organization, themselves, have been highly effective in promoting and increasing accessibility technology. Australia has also been a leader in this area. So really as you look at the map here, whether you're Europe or really regardless what continent you're on, the disability landscape as I mentioned, is an emerging market and it is one that is quite pervasive and ubiquitous So hang onto those terms because we're going to use them again another, in other areas. Let's move on to slide three, four please. So, again if you kind of step back and look a little bit at the history of accessibility as a whole, there are from my perspective at least, basically three waves of accessibility, we have the first wave, what I call the assistive technology, the assistive wave. Where we had an awful lot of assistive and adaptive technologies, things as simple as wheelchairs, hearing aids, you know, some people look at crutches as being a kind of an assistant or an 3
  4. 4. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 adaptive aid to an individual with disability. These really were more mechanical in nature, kind of fell along or flowed along with the industrial age, which many of them grew out of. Over the last, oh twenty to thirty years, I might be stretching it a little bit by thirty years, but it seems to me in the mid 70's, that kind of qualifies us as a good time being there. We've seen kind of a move towards what is commonly being known as a second wave or accessibility has become a more pervasive term or term that is being used to describe the kind of technologies used to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities and that kind of goes along with the IT of the computer age. So technologies before, that were more manual and industrial in nature, say for example a magnifying glass or magnified screen that kind of overlaid your screen has been turned into software. So we have things called screen magnifiers that are used by individuals with low vision. Individuals who are blind and for years relied on technologies like Braille or Braille devices to read back things, printed material for example, even to interpret things on a computer screen, many of those devices that were hardware focused and hardware oriented have been replaced by technologies that tend to be information technologies more along the line of software that's installed on your computer. But the third way, the third way that we're entering into now is something that I think will be very different. And I know many of my colleagues that and certainly individuals who are much more progressive in readers in the area of technology for people with disabilities, are seeing this third wave of pervasive accessibility, ubiquitous accessibility Particularly as we enter into this new age of information and communication technology. Become something more along the lines of utility, much like our phones and electricity. Things we can’t live without. So I'm sure most of you out there have technologies like PDA's or smart phones and cell phones and laptops or netbooks. You know all of these technologies interact with a number of other technologies. Telecommunication technologies and infrastructures, all over the world, Web technologies, internet technologies. It's gotten to the point now where we have a crossover of hardware and software and our ability to be able to interact and communicate with one another as humans and as people, are literally becoming reliant on these technologies. They have become that pervasive and that ubiquitous in nature. And this is where accessibility is moving towards. A notion of pervasive accessibility where everything and anything, anywhere, on any type of device or tool that we use, will have what I call inherent or built in accessibility and that's really what we want. So go on to the next slide. 4
  5. 5. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 So why are we moving in that direction? Well again, if you just kind of look at the history, even in this country, you start to see the same movement from the industrial age to the technology age to this notion of third wave accessibility We've moved away from, ADA have reached many high levels. There are still some things need to be tweaked. I'm certain that most you, like me, would like to see the day when the kind of technology enhancements and standards and mandates that are available, and things like Section 508, are right there in ADA so it becomes more of a human right, the way it was intended to be across all horizons as opposed to limited to just kind of architectural enhancements. But again, we've moving along here. We've moved into Section 508, we moved into the telecommunications act. Today we talk about standards in the context of the Section 508 refresh or tie tack. That committee combined essentially two major standards in the US Federal Law Section 255 and Section 508 and harmonized those standards as many of the industry standards that are very popular today, promoted by organizations like the International Standards Organization, the American National Institute and Human Factors Ergonomic Society, as well as the world wide web consortium and it's web accessibility initiative. This is a huge heap forward. This will ultimately provide those of us with disabilities and those of us who are working in the disability field, an opportunity to really see a harmonization of these standards. Not just here again in the US, but as you see there in the signage on the right, for those that are able, all over the world. Whether it's Europe, Canada, whatever continent and whatever technology, all of those platforms are seeing significant advances in the standards and mandates. But as the bottom of this screen kind of talks about, there are a lot of great standards out there. There are many new standards that are being enhanced and some awesome and very cool technologies. But the fact of the matter is that people with disabilities are still kind of in the state that you'll see on the next slide. So go ahead Janet. So this tends to be one of my more favorite slides. Again, for those that are not able to see, there's a slide here with a gentleman kind of balding, not unlike myself, scratching his head and the title and the theme of this particular slide is accessibility organized chaos. So we've talked about so many laws and so many standards and so many different technologies and social networking is coming at us at a faster speed, faster than if it may be hard to express, but even internet speed if you will. With so many different things that are coming at us, it gets very confusing, very easily out there. And by the way, not just for people with disabilities. It's individuals who 5
  6. 6. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 work with people with disabilities, corporations and industry who are trying their best to promote and to enhance the technologies that they build to keep up, if you will, with the demands of the disability community, with very limited resources both from the standpoint of monetary resources, as well as human resources. We look at governments and standards organizations, they too are trying to keep up with technology and keep up with accessibility And, and frankly it's just, it tends to be very chaotic in nature and not as well organized as I think many of us would like it to see. That's not to poo poo, so to speak, the many efforts of many of the organizations all over the world. They've been releasing yeoman type work that's been accomplished by a number of admirable organizations and people. But the fact of the matter is, that we are not well organized. And now we're entering into this whole new age, this third wave of accessibility and so it's important that we get together, standardize, harmonize the standards and really provide a basis for increasing accessibility, particularly as we go into this social networks. Next slide. So, again not unlike a good friend of mine and well known researcher in the area of people with disabilities, Marcia Scherer. She had this wonderful title to her book, living in the State of Stuck. And I often think that we find ourselves in exactly this state. And again, regardless of whether you're a person with a disability, a caretaker or a professional in the industry, despite all of the significant leaps in technology, despite all of the accessibility standards, there still is this gap that often seems like it's growing between mainstream technology or as we call it today, information communication technology; and accessibility technology. Whether it's adaptive, assistive or accessible technology, there's still this gap and this gap seems to be growing faster than technologists and people with disabilities are able to keep up with. And I illustrate that on our next slide. So, we have this growing notion if you will, of an accessibility gap and by that I mean a couple of things. First of all, the disability demographics, combined with the aging population or the third age adults, are really creating a demand for IAT or inherently accessible technology and that makes sense. I mean, as the baby boomer generation grows, more and more people are losing their ability in some of the common sensory areas that we know of. They're losing sight, they're losing hearing, and they’re losing mobility. So when you combine the population of older adults and the aging population, with the growing population of individuals with disabilities, we see that there is a much greater emergent and urgent need for technology to, 6
  7. 7. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 to be more usable and more accessible to them. Unfortunately, the technological advances that are being made in the field of accessibility lag behind mainstream information in communication technology. And this is really what ultimately has created this gap. Corporations and companies, regardless of who they are or how big or how small they are, are seeing technology, mainstream technology; being developed and released on a daily basis. New tools, now applets, new services and trying to create an environment or build an architecture that will also accommodate users with disabilities, requires a lot of work and a lot of investment and we're not seeing that made in the great leaps and bounds that it is, that mainstream technology is obviously getting. So this gap is widening and it's leaving these third age adults and people with disabilities further behind. So how can we close the gap? So we'll go on to the next slide. Well I think we can close the gap by forcing what Maxine Talabut [assumed spelling] calls a black swan. Now if you know anything about black swans, they're basically identified by three key attributes. They're rare. That is they're unexpected. You generally can't predict them and they appear almost improbable. Interestingly enough though, their impact is huge and quite pervasive in nature. A classic black swan, if you will, is the emergence of the World Wide Web. No one could have predicted back in the early 90's, when Tim Burnsley introduced the world and the notion of the World Wide Web, to the rest of the world, that it would fundamentally become the pervasive and impactful, practically a staple if you will, of human society today. Largely unpredicted, largely unexpected. I don't know about the probability of it, because certainly technology had been working in the notion of the internet space for a good twenty years or more before that, but certainly the effect that it's had on society today is unparallel. And the other interesting thing about a black swan is exactly what we're doing right now. Is that retrospectively, we could have, figuratively speaking, have predicted it. We look back, we see all the signs that were there to make something be the marvel of technology as it were or as it is, the World Wide Web, were already in place. We were already working with mark up languages, which is the fundamental language used to create web pages today, long before Burnsley created the HTML language, that was the foundation language, programming language for the web today. We already had the internet at that time. There were all kinds of internet activity that was being used. But no one, at that particular time, saw something like the World Wide Web coming. Looking back, now it makes sense. Accessibility is no different. We've had quote unquote, our black swans. We think about the invention of 7
  8. 8. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 the telephone. Could anyone had predicted how pervasive it would be or it was for individuals with disabilities, as it was a technology that was created for individuals with hearing disabilities and it's had a profound effect on society. Even though we've moved away from the landline notion, we're using wireless technology; again it's still fundamentally a device that we use to talk to one or to many people at the same time. Curb cuts. Again, another type of aide if you will, that is quite pervasive. You could barely walk around anywhere in the world today and not see the notion of curb cuts. But when they were originally introduced as an accessibility aide or an adaptive aide, if you will, I don't think anybody would have thought well, these are only going to be for wheelchair people. Now everyone use curb cuts and frankly, those that don't usually fall off the curb. So that's quite interesting. I believe and I really feel strongly, that social networking has capacity and the capability to be a black swan. Now even though black swans are not predictable, I am if you will, going on record. I really believe that it will be as impactful or perhaps more impactful than the notions of curb cuts and telephones in society for people with disabilities. Let's go on to the next, next slide. Why do I think it will be this impactful? Well just think about what the classic disconnects between users, people with disabilities and developers and designers of these new and mainstream technologies. Right? People with disabilities are looking for the World Wide Web or web 2.0 and relying on its persuasive power to reach and to get to these developers and designers, to form relationships, to create if you will a voice. That's what they need. Developers, what do they need? Well they need, they need the obvious. They need to become more accessibility aware. They need to understand users or understand user experience and social networking has the capability and the capacity for a closing that gap. For helping those two entities, the users and themselves and the developers and designers, to develop a bond. To develop a relationship. Because that is the fundamental preset of social networking. Engagement. Interaction between users and developers. Next slide. So, social networking. What's the deal? Well it's pretty obvious. Social networking, for the perspective of anyone but particularly from the perspective of individuals with disabilities allows us three important attributes. It gives us three important attributes. It increases our voice. We're able to stand up, so to speak, and yell out, get on a soap box, tell organizations, tell industry, effect the future; by raising our voice. And it 8
  9. 9. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 doesn't matter if you're John Doe and you know, in a little, small town in Oklahoma or if you're a large corporation, a Microsoft or a Google, social networking provides the capacity for increasing and giving and raising voice. Second, social networking is the new means of communicating need. So again, from the perspective of individuals, with disabilities or individuals who work in the disability community, from whatever environment they're in, we can communicate needs. And again, if you are active today and I see several people who are participating today, if you are already active in some area of social networking, you see how effective we can be by communicating the kinds of needs with new applications or the specialized needs of individuals with disabilities. And I think perhaps one of the greater aspects, the greater attributes of a social networking, is this awareness building. I can't think of one disability community that hasn't been able to establish some sort of voice or some sort of social networking organization or site or what have you, to build more awareness. I know individuals in the blind, deaf community. I know individuals in the quad, quadriplegic area. Individuals who have speaking disabilities, speech disabilities, blind, hard of hearing, deaf, mobility, it doesn't matter. Everyone has an opportunity to communicate, to increase their voice and more importantly to build awareness around their needs. That's the effect and that's the power of social networking. Next slide please. And so this is where the emergence of social networking comes in play. Now the slide in front of you, there to the right side is a number of different social networking applications. They're very prominent, very popular world. I'll talk about many of them in just a moment, individually. But things like Facebook and You Tube. Twitter is really very hot right now. If you're not tweeting and [inaudible] I guess, Word Press is a blogging notion. Other social networking applications like Lincoln and Second Life are also popular. But social networking is about what I said before. It's about relationships. It's about collaboration. It's about education. It's about business, news, community, even storytelling. It's about people engaging with other people. And perhaps more importantly again, it's ubiquitous, it's universal, it's global. I could talk here today, make a statement and I can guarantee you like two, three, four o'clock in the morning, somewhere out in the world; there will be other individuals who will be responding. So time is barrier less, at this particular point and you'd be amazed the kind of communication and collaboration, educational efforts, that can be built as a result of social networking. And social networking comes in different flavors. Kind of the big, medium, small flavors. So from a big standpoint, 9
  10. 10. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 there's the concept of blogging. Blogging was very popular a few years ago. Everyone had to have their blog. You had companies like Word Press and Blogger out there. People were able to write fairly lengthy opinions or write stories or report news or build education and do a number of different things in that way. Then came a notion of micro blogs. Facebook was perhaps the first and most popular micro blog. So it took, if you will, blogging, which is oh writing almost a journalistic like writing down to the finer art of creating smaller snippets of opinions, of thoughts, of facts. But Facebook added something new to the game of social networking. It created the notion of applets and applications, so that now you just couldn't, you just post data. Now you could play games, you could create applications that were useful tools, productivity tools within the businesses and businesses found them opportunistic to create things that fundamentally allow them to reach you, to reach the user. And Twitter has kind of followed along that same, that same path, except Twitter is a very abbreviated and perhaps a more realistic notion of what, micro, means in the context of things that people say and things that people do. So you've got these very short snippets, 140 characters, where you can make statements, post facts and do, and do a number of different things. And then we have video blogging if you will or video social networking. Things, applications like You Tube and Kladblog are being used today to allow you to see and view through video, even accessible video notions and share, build awareness, build community and collaboration. Next slide. So, on the current slide you'll see an example of a blog page. This particular blog is called, Access Garage. So a perfect blog page, if you will, created by Aaron Leventhal, a good friend of people with disabilities with a number of different companies, IBM, AOL. Aaron was earlier involved in the development of screenware software early on in his developer life. And so he created this blog page so that people could follow what he's writing. And these blog pages can be used to write journals and journals could come in again, different forms. It can be a personal journal, kind of a day to day thing. I've seen journals by individuals with disabilities who are involved in various activities. For example, there was a movement where a particular group of individuals were traveling all over the US, raising awareness and raising some funds for a particular effort and they used the blog page as a way of journaling, all of their activities day to day. Where they stopped, posting pictures and things along that line. So, you get the notion of journaling, you get an opportunity to post opinions. That seems to be a very, very popular means today. Or reviews, if you will, of technologies. I know at 10
  11. 11. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 The Paciello Group (TPG) we have our own blog. A lot of times we will use our blog to post reviews of upcoming technology, particularly some of the emerging technologies that are out there. And we'll give you some insight. Not just an opinion, but some facts and some data about is this thing usable, is it accessible, what needs to be done to enhance it for accessibility? But other people are using blogs to again, express their opinions, to write some thoughts on a particular activity. And of course, blogs are very popular for reporting news of any nature, regardless of again, whether its accessibility or disability oriented. But a lot of educational institutions that have blogs use them as a means for posting much like this particular session was posted on an area where people could get some access to finding out what kind of seminars, webinars and educational activities. We used a form of blogging, when we were doing the Section 508 refresh work. We used another form of, a type of blogging or social networking application called a Wiki. Wikipedia for example. You note that was built using this social networking application. And again, it gives us an opportunity to do an awful lot of different things. Next slide. You Tube. You Tube again, is perhaps one of the most pervasive and ubiquitous notions of social networking out there. It's used for training; it's used for awareness building. You see how this particular You Tube features the accessibility features on the iPhone. And it's literally a step by step walk- through, on the features on an iPhone and the accessibility features on an iPhone. So it has wonderful reach as far as individuals with disabilities and perhaps one of the biggest things that's taken place just recently is the introduction of captioning. So individuals themselves, persons, never mind organizations, people can go out, install or load or upload their videos into You Tube and they can actually do captioning right there, to the advantage of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. And this is something very valuable. Interestingly enough, even some of the media companies, of course WGBH and the National Center for Accessible Media, have been doing this for years on DVD's and movies and videos and things like that. But note recently that the social media site, Hulu, recently introduced the notion of captioning. So again, you see the technology is spreading, the social networking environment is spreading and so accessibility is starting to take root into, into these activities. Let's move onto the next slide. I talked about micro blogging. We'll talk about it in two forms today. The most common form, Facebook. On this particular screen, I've taken a screen capture; hopefully he's not on here. I had to get Andy Imparato permission to 11
  12. 12. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 use his likeness on my slide, but Andy Imparato is the director of the American Association of Person's with Disabilities. And Andy keeps us up- to-date on the activities, many activities of people with disabilities, particularly all over the United States and the AAPD has been in the forefront of Facebook and social networking and twittering at that level. But the interesting thing about Facebook is it's a little bit of blog, meaning that you communicate, interact, you can form relationships with people, but you tend to do that in smaller snippets of content and information and interaction. But slightly larger than Twitter, which is limited to this 140 character limitation of what you say and how you say it, what you do and how you do it. So as I have here, it's a little bit of blog and a dash of micro blog. But its focus is on community. Its focus is on collaboration. Working together. There are incredible amount of activities in organizations, new organizations that have been formed through Facebook. And the efforts, growing efforts of organizations supporting people with disabilities have been enhanced greatly as a result of establishing a presence in Facebook. And of course, it develops relationships. Just a little side anecdote here. My mother somehow found out that I had a Facebook presence I can't even remember how she did it. She probably jumped into Google, searched on my name, found it. And one day I started getting these messages through Facebook, from her. And it took me a while to figure out that she thought Facebook was email. And so that's how she was communicating with me. So I taught her that now Facebook is much more about collaboration and community and of course, today she's all over the place in Facebook. So for my mom, she's in her, in her late 60's, I think it's pretty cool to watch one of the older generations involved at that level. Again, one of the other great assets of Facebook are the built in applets and the applications that people can use and bringing people together with disabilities, these applets are really useful. Next slide. Twitter is, is perhaps the most popular form of micro blogging today. It is primarily the form of micro blogging that I use. My Twitter page, Paciello Twitter page is up on this particular slide. I like it because Twitter gives me the opportunity to post newslets if you will. Very, very small snippets of very important information. And more often than not, it is information that is resource based information. Others are posting it, others are developing it and it gives me an opportunity to build some awareness about the kind of activities around the world. So I use it, along with some other tools, to make sure that I get and reach out to across the board, across all of the blogging and micro blogging and social networking applications. Again, I love it 12
  13. 13. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 because it's a great place to provide links, immediate links to resources. It is a great way of building community and collaboration, to develop relationships with one another. Again, anecdotally speaking, we're, a group of us have just spawned the idea of creating what we're calling an un conference. Which basically means, it's a disorganized form of a real conference, here in the Boston area, where I'm from, to get together a bunch of developers and designers and talk shop so to speak and talk about the kind of things we can do, particularly in the area of social networking and enhancing an increasing it's accessibility But that was done very simply by one person saying hey, why don't we just get together for an accessibility un conference in Boston and there we are. And about literally in minutes, people were saying OK yeah, I want to and we've got folks from Canada, from and I'm talking relation, geographical relationship to Boston. People from Canada, people from New York, people from Pennsylvania, people down in DC, all ready to come up and participate in this in person conference. We do things like tweet ups. And tweet ups are events that we hold within a larger event. We have one at the annual Cal State University conference. We'll have our second annual one this year in March and they're great opportunities for us, not only to meet there in person, but we webcast these tweet ups. We capture them as well live, so that again, we can reach thousands of people, all over the world and engage them in this relationship building, idea building and it's really just something like you've never seen and never experienced before. Next slide. Now this next slide that will come up in just a minute is a great example, a story of the power of community and relationship building that social networking does for us today. And this is a real experience, which is why I have the thread, literally built into the slide. So on the slide is just three small twitters or tweets if you will, statements, in a conversation that I had with a couple of people on Twitter. And this goes back to last summer. But I'm going to literally read it to you. Because it gives you an idea of the power of communication. So we had an individual by the name of Darryl, who was talking to me and saying hey, it's pretty ironic when Yahoo still has a visually only, has visually only captcha's, that continue to lock us out. And I responded right back and I said, hey you know what, my tweet by Darryl is interesting. Made me think about the power of social media and how to give users a voice. Tell you accessibility story. In other words, Darryl said, hey look. I'm having this problem with this thing called captcha, which is kind of encrypted passwords that people are blind or have low vision cannot use or cannot see. And I said, these are the kind of ways of raising awareness 13
  14. 14. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 around it. Yahoo probably doesn't know about it. So then another, a good friend of mine, David Clark, responded back and sure enough, David is a person with CP. He himself has difficulty speaking and so note what he says in his next feed back. He said, hey this is so true. I've been able to communicate with people via tweets, which are small Twitter statements, who have real trouble understanding me. So here was an effective means for one individual with a disability, to communicate with a broad community of people, regardless if they were individuals with disabilities. I couldn't think of a more powerful way or a more powerful statement to be made by any other individual and it shows the kind of power that social networking can bring to us today. Next slide. Another form or a popular application, social networking application, is something called Linked In. Linked In, Plaxo, these are kind of, they're being used by individuals and organizations to build relationships. But I find that they tend to focus primarily on business relationships or job hunting. People often used Linked In and Plaxo, as a way of engaging one another, engaging employees, doing job interviews. I know people will give reviews or performance reviews, if you will, or recommendations of individuals that they work with. But it's primarily collaboration and a contact database. Other people are using it in different ways, but this is where I see its primary use today. Next slide. I know that folks are running out of time here. We're getting down to the last few minutes. So I'm going to try and push through without missing a couple of important points here. Another very popular tool in the micro blogging area, is these suite like tools, like Hoot Suite, that basically allow you to and this is what I use, as you can see up here on this particular slide, it allows me to post comments and information to a number of social networking applications. Since I obviously can't be on all of them or it's very difficult for any one person, again regardless of your ability to participate in all of the individual ways. The suite of tools now supports the ability to post information across many social network applications. And therefore the benefit is obvious and it's intrinsic. It's pervasive and it allows you to communicate globally, it's relational and again, it enhances awareness building. Next slide. The last one is social networking and probably one that you're less aware of, is storytelling. Actually, I say that, you're probably more aware of storytelling than you know. But what I love about storytelling is exactly 14
  15. 15. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 what the slide title says. It's a voice that motivates action. Its short stories that is meaningful and effective and impactful. They're specific to an audience. They're inherently interesting because they are stories and people love to listen to stories. It creates predicaments, it creates tension, it allows you to view unexpected events. It gets listeners involved and that's really what we're trying to do. Get people, get developers, get designers, get governments, get organizations, get industry and educational institutions, get people to listen. It allows you to convey your needs as an individual or as a collection of individuals. So this is my soap box. I'm heavily into storytelling. It's a notion of usability. I'll be teaching a workshop on it at the season conference this March. Next slide. So this is our final slide here. Again, emphasizing the power of social networking. That it does, it increases our voice, it helps us to establish relationships both personal and in a broad spectrum of relationships in ways that we never could before. And it helps build awareness around the needs of people with disabilities. Now, I don't want to mislead you. I don't want you to think the social networking, while I believe it has the potential being the next black swan that is a panacea. That is paradise. There are a lot of challenges in social networking and it's a little bit of everything. The accessibility of many of these applications, including Facebook and Twitter, they are rooted in technologies that themselves have problems with accessibility They are built in rich media, they have dynamic content, they've got players and viewers, specialized players and viewers that are not usable and not accessible They have that context of captcha, as I like before, which is this encrypted visual encryption, graphical encryption language if you will, that is not inherently accessible There are AT compatibility issues, there are usability issues, there's a lack of awareness period, around designers and developers who create these applications, what they need to do to make them accessible and usable by people with disabilities. And perhaps more importantly, especially germane to this discussion, is that there's this, this notion of people with disabilities who are outside of the mainstream, people with disabilities who don't have easy access to technology or the internet or the web or these social networking interfaces and applications are grounded. And of course, there's a lack of training. But as, as S. Scott Fitzgerald once said, someone I really like to quote, he said, one should be able to see that things are hopeless, yet be determined to make them otherwise. And I really think that's where we're headed. We are determined to enhance and make social networking, not only be ubiquitous and pervasive environment that it is for people without disabilities, but 15
  16. 16. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 something that is ubiquitous and pervasive for people with disabilities. There are a number of resources and activities that are going on in Facebook, in Twitter and You Tube and Word Press, to enhance the accessibility And I would just encourage you, if you like offline, please feel free to send me email and I will provide you with that resource information. And without further adieu, Janet, I'll open it up to you to handle the Q and A. Janet Peters: Thank you Mike. What an excellent presentation. We will open it up for question and answer. So you can click on your microphone, just be sure to release it when you are done asking a question or feel free to type it in the chat area. And you should, on your screen, see the link for, for the evaluation, which will also be mailed to you, emailed to you, so please take a minute to also share your feedback with us. So we'll open it up for questions for Mike. You can go ahead and put it in the chat area as well. I did Mike, while people are typing their questions or trying to use the microphone, I did have one, well actually let's do Bob's question first and then I'll ask the one that came via email. Bob says, could you say a little more about digital, about storytelling. Mike Paciello: Hi Bob thanks very much. Storytelling is a usability methodology that I've been using for about two years and there are certainly many more people in the usability field who are using it a lot longer. But it's a means of interaction, relationship building, between an individual with a disability and designers and developers. Now this is speaking specifically from a technologist and software development standpoint. So what we have found over the years, as you probably are well aware, is that most designers and developers just don't get it. They don't fully understand or they don't have what I call the accessibility mindset, of understanding what the actually user needs of a person with a disability, regardless of what that disability is, what those needs really are. They don't understand how people who are blind, use screen [inaudible] or how people with low vision use screen magnifiers or how people with speech disabilities use Dragon Dictate, how they interact with a computer interface. By telling your stories or by capturing a story and putting it into the written word and then creating a persona, which is basically the definition of a personality or a type of person and allowing developers and designers to see these, it helps them to better appreciate how a user with a disability, interacts with software. So that's just 16
  17. 17. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 a small piece of what storytelling does. Now there's another very popular way of storytelling, especially from the social networking standpoint and that is, people with disabilities telling their stories, their life stories, their events, the things that happened to them. It gives us a greater appreciation for who they are and what they go through. OK, next question. Let's see. I see Janet, I'm just going to, and I’m reading the questions that are on the screen. I see one from PJ Gardener and she asks, what needs to be done to encourage accessibility in social networking software? Well that's a great question and what I say is, tweet it, blog it, build awareness, raise your voice. It's not really any different from what many of us have been doing over the last twenty five or thirty years or more. It’s just that now we have a venue and that is the social networking venue, by which we can reach a lot more people. Again, to give you a classic example. I have seen individuals who have posted Facebook comments or blogs or Twitter comments that were viewed for example, by large corporate entities that have an investment in accessibility an invested reason for making sure that people with disabilities have accessible software and they have reacted to those needs. I have a number of different stories I could tell you just about that, but that's, that's how I really think we can get to them. OK? The next question is from Karen Pagel and she asks, do you see the influx of mobile technology positively effecting accessibility? Mike Paciello: Absolutely. Of course, I mean, there will always be the problems of how individuals with mobility disabilities and other certain disabilities that may have a difficulty handling the actual mobile devices, but there are adaptive aides and accessible technologies that are increasing the accessibility of Smart Phones for example. Very popular, iPhone accessibility has a number of good attributes, the Blackberry has a number of good attributes, Android has a number of good attributes. They still need refinement, they still need enhancement, but I think the more portable a device is, you could do things like, most people don't know that I literally have been Twittering and posting comments for the last six weeks, from a hospital. My wife has been really sick and so I've been just taking my laptop or my, or my smart phone, my Blackberry and I've been posting comments that way. So it shows how effective it can be. OK. I see the next question is David Cornelius. Oh I'm sorry, I missed one. How does HootSuite work? I'll tell you Maryanne, the best thing I can do is tell you to go to and try it out. The thing is and I'll be honest with you, if you are an individual who is blind or has low vision, you're better off using something like Accessible Twitter or McTwit if you happen to be on a 17
  18. 18. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 Mac. Because most of these new applications and the speed of applications, are not very usable and accessible to people with disabilities. But they are basically a single tool that posts to many different social networks. Now we'll go onto David's question. Many social networking sites are currently viewed by upper management as time wasters in the workplace. What are some strategies that can be used to change these opinions? Well Dave, I think the obvious has to be stated. Every tool, particularly tools in applications that are computer centricate, computer oriented, often times have their advantages and they have their disadvantages. As an individual with a disability or individuals who are professionals working within the disability community, you've got to make a good business case for their use. You need to show the impact that these tools have, how they create business if business is what's need to be created. If you're in an educational institution, how they create awareness or how they build opportunities for training and education. If you're within a government organization, how you can effectively communicate the standards and the demands of government entities at that level. Most of the problems, I think that are also intrinsic to these new social networking environments, are around security and privacy. And that may be a different argument that you might have to defend. So you need to get up to speed at what can be done at that level. OK, the next question is from Jessica. She asks, as a web designer, where can I find stories that will help me create accessible websites. Stories that can create accessible websites and are there any sources to QA test websites for accessibility? There are a number of websites out there that aren't necessarily story driven but are websites that will teach you how to create a successful websites. A couple of popular ones, if you can go to the Web Aim website, No Ability. These are usually .org's or .edu's. Just look them up in Google. TPG, The Paciello Group’s website. We do a lot of awareness building around that. I think if you just plug accessibility, accessible websites into Google or any search engine that you prefer, you'll find a lot of sites that will help you to work on that. Of course, the big one is the World Wide Web consortium, W3C. I'm sorry, their web accessibility initiative website. So if you go to, W A I, you'll find a host of information about building and developing accessible websites, including the testing tools for it. Jenny, you're going to have to tell me when I stop. Because right now I'm just going to keep answering questions as I see them. So just type it into the chat area. How does one test their materials? Again, go up to the W3C site, the TPG site, the Web Aim site, the No Ability site and you'll find a number of different links to ways that you can test websites. 18
  19. 19. The Power of Social Networking for People with Disabilities Jan 13, 2010 And certainly, if you email me, we'll provide you with some direction in that area as well. And if you note, Janet notes that there are resources on the DEBTAC website. Eliza asked the question, Eliza asked, what is the most accessible video player that you are aware of? Hum, I'll tell you. The video players that are out there are pretty much equal. The Quick Time player, the Windows Media Player, is probably the more accessible players for video right now. The Real Player I haven't seen as much working in that area. There aren't as many specialized players for people with disabilities around this area. But most of them, you may see a flash player as well. Flash players, they're being worked on as far as the accessibility is concerned, but most of them are pretty much on an even keel, where users can have access to the content and to the controls with their assistive and adaptive software and technology. And thank you Rick, I appreciate it. I hope, I know only an hour doesn't do social networking you know, the kind of justice that it really needs and I could tell you that we'll be putting on more workshops, in person workshops too and by all means, feel free to contact Janel and Ditek or contact us at TPG. We'll be more than happy to give your organization a free webinar as well. Any other questions? Thank you for posting my Twitter page. You're welcome Hannah. Janet Peters: What a great session that was and thanks for all you participants for your attention and great questions during this session. This session will be recorded in archives and I will send out a link as soon as that's available. Thanks everyone. ==== Transcribed by Automatic Sync Technologies ==== 19