NYCDH Week 2020

One of my favorite workshops from this years NYCDH Week was the Helen Keller Archive: A Fully Accessible Digital Archive at Pace University Tuesday afternoon. Four of the women who have been working on the project were present to discuss their work on the site and they were proud to state that the Helen Keller Archive was once only in one place, but now the archive is everywhere!

The road map to digitizing the archive focused on accessibility, then digitization and curriculum creation. Before explaining the accessibility aspect of the site, an important point one of the speakers made was that 1 in 5 American adults have a disability. So, accessibility is important if you want visitors to be able to view and read all the content your site has to offer. Also, Section 508 was brought up due to ADA compliance applying to the internet, but this is not necessarily a bad thing since this also helps with discoverability.

An important question that was brought up was, how do you know what to write for the description of the images on the site? One of the members of the audience noticed aspects for the descriptions of the photographs to be lacking in some of the features represented in the images. The speaker informed the audience member that she had a background in fashion, so she tended to focus more on the dress of the people in the photographs more than anything else. Another aspect of the site that was brought up was the transcription of the videos. The videos have a text transcription under the video as well as text transcription over the dialogue in the video and when something important on-screen happens that is not in the dialogue a voice-over informs of what is happening.

While utilizing the site the TAB key can be easily used to traverse through the site. Menus were placed in the same place throughout the site for easy maneuverability for people using screen readers. However, at one point, the developers tried something new with the display on a page and when someone with a screen reader ran into it, they questioned the process. The developers immediately changed the page to be in unison with the rest of the website. So, a major point that was made was consistency. If you have most of your pages in a similar design, continue to use that design because someone who can’t see the page and is used to a certain set up can become disoriented if things shift from page to page. It was also brought up that popups are evil! So, avoid whenever possible.