Jan 2022 Update: 2021 was a lot

So, I haven’t posted anything in about a year. It’s not uncommon given the state of the world, but I wanted to give a little update anyway. I am working on one last article in the accessibility in academic research series.

This past year was pretty hard, as it was for just about everyone. During the past year, I was frantically trying to find a new job because my now-husband (another thing that changed this past year) got a professor job in another region of the country. My old job wouldn’t let me live outside of Boston city limits. Anyway, I found a new job, got married, moved to another region of the country, and started a new job. Additionally, I became a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP). I joined the board of a library user experience journal. You may also notice I changed my last name too. All of this is to say that a lot happened in the past year and that’s why I never finished the series.

However, it’s on my list of things to get to. In my new position, I’ve been learning a lot. I’ve been learning more about document accessibility and using screen readers for testing. I also know that I will be learning a lot about user experience research and discovery systems so you can likely expect more posts about those topics in the future.

Hope to share more content soon!

Accessibility in Academic Research: Alternative Text for Images and Non-text Items

This series focuses on a few main problems with accessibility in academic research, but by no means are they they only ones. My last post covered problems concerning graphs and how we can improve them to be more accessible to color blind individuals. If you’re curious about other accessibility considerations, take a look at Anne Gibson’s Alphabet of Accessibility on the Pastry Box Project; it’s fantastic.

Images, graphs and other non-text items in research

As I mentioned in my previous post, lots of scholarly research relies of graphs and charts to represent data and results. Additionally, researchers use images and other non-text items (such as equations) in research. However, without proper alternative text, these visual representations are meaningless to users with certain visual impairments.

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What does Reading Level have to do with Racism and Equity?

As the Web Services Librarian, I play an important role in determining the standards for content on the Boston Public Library website. The blogs are some of the most important content I oversee. They’re important because they let library workers talk about things they and their patrons care about. I think that connection to the public is special and needs to be protected.

As a part of the annual training bloggers go through, I remind them to keep their posts to a 10th grade reading level or below (ideally 8th grade). The few exceptions are on a case-by-case basis. However, staff members come back to me and say that the requirement is too restrictive, and what’s the big deal anyway?

When you don’t consider the reading level of your content, you are shutting out people who don’t read at the same level as you. Those people will most likely include, but are not limited to:

  • People of color
  • People who are poor
  • People with learning disabilities
  • People who don’t speak English as their first language

TL;DR: The reading level of your content is a racism and equity issue. If you’re not thinking about the reading levels of your content, you are preventing large groups of disadvantaged people from reading it. About half of adults in the U.S. do not read above an eighth grade reading level, and you are excluding them. Use hemingwayapp.com to help you reduce the reading level of your content.

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Image of a blank blog post in Wordpress

Blog Post Best Practices: A Literature Review

Image of a blank blog post in WordPress
Welcome back everyone, and happy new year! I took a break from writing posts during the holidays, as things just got too busy for me. This month’s post was inspired by a conversation with a friend. My friend was looking for guidelines on writing blog posts. She knew I had created guidelines for the blogs we have at the Boston Public Library, but she had trouble finding articles online with this information. The trouble is that most of the information I used, I gathered from sources about writing for the web. So, when she searched for blog guidelines, she didn’t find what I used.
The purpose of this post is to aggregate information on how to write blog posts, as an informal literature review. I will also include my own suggestions in here as well. I’ve broken things down by category, and included these three broad categories: Word Count, Readability, and Accessibility.

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What I’ve been working on: A new bpl.org

Homepage for the soon-to-be new bpl.orgSo today, I can finally show you what I’ve been working on at my new job, that I started a little less than six months ago.

The Boston Public Library unveiled today its new website, now available for public preview.

The website can be viewed here: https://bpl.bibliocms.com/, and we’re really excited about a few features:

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