Fluid Choices : Accessibility and Reference

I did a presentation at LibTech 2016 yesterday, which remains my favourite library conference. (Enough that I go to Minnesota in March for it! Ok, so it’s also a good chance to see friends from the 12 years I lived here and drink my favourite root beer and it’s the same week as something else I’d want to come back for.)

My slides are up on my SlideShare, but a few other notes (and I’d love to answer more questions or go home and figure out some solutions if you have questions.)

I also did a post just before coming to Minnesota with a few more notes about Perkins and the Research Library, for anyone curious.

Things you can’t see from the slides:

PowerPoint and accessibility: There are a lot of things that help with screenreaders, and you can’t see them from the SlideShare (or not all of them.)

  • Use styles.
  • Use unique slide titles.
  • If there are images, either alt-text them, or, as I did in the presenter notes, describe the content. (The graph slides spell out the percentages in meaningful order.)
  • If you’re sorting data or marking things with color, make sure there are other indications too.
  • There are also some tricks for numbering slides and editing the order of display for slides which I didn’t do here (because my slides were simple or already described) but are really helpful for more complex slides.

Big thing: if you’re doing a presentation for people who are visually impaired, sending them the presentation slides in advance is excellent, so they can review in advance and then focus on listening to your talk when you’re talking.

Things not on the slides:

I mentioned in the presentation, but for document design, using styles is a great way to make the document more accessible to screenreaders.

The biggest two things to do (besides looking at reading order) are using headers (in levels, as appropriate) rather than purely visual changes, and doing blank lines between paragraphs with a style rather than a carriage return.

Again, once you get in the habit, they’re pretty easy to do. (Also, benefits like being able to generate a table of contents easily!)

Awesome resources: 

Someone asked about image based PDFs and OCR (something we’ve been trying to find a solution for, for when we scan materials for remote users) We haven’t had a good solution so far.

Andromeda Yelton (who just gave a really awesome keynote this morning, with an amazing explanation of data security issues for libraries) tweeted with a suggestion of what looks like a great resource : ABBYY FineReader.

I won’t get a chance to explore it in detail until I get home next week, but I’m excited to see if it would work for us. Watch this space for more. (Also for some more thoughts that Andromeda’s keynote made me think about data security in our library, or rather keep thinking about it.)

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Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Research Librarian at the Perkins School for the Blind

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