Improving Accessibility in Our Blogs

This is a collaborative post written by Jaci Wilkinson, Head, Discovery and User Experience (DUX), and Alexis Guilbault, the Web Content Assistant in DUX.

Accessibility is a critical component of equitable, usable web content creation. There are many steps people who manage websites, social media accounts, and blogs can take to structure content for the benefit of all readers. Creators need to ensure their content is compatible with assistive technologies such as screen readers that “speak” webpages and other online information to blind readers.

In late April 2019, the DUX department audited 47 posts from IU Libraries blogs and assessed the use of three key accessibility practices. This post highlight the results and explains these three practices:

  1. embedding videos with closed captioning,
  2. strategizing content organization with heading tags, and
  3. providing descriptive captions and/or alternative text for images.

As a result of this review, we’re rolling out definitive guidelines in these three areas that we ask blog creators to follow for content created in WordPress moving forward.

Videos and closed captioning

Closed captions provide text and additional interpretive information for viewers who are hearing impaired and are also helpful to viewers who do not speak English.

While only 6 of the 47 IU Libraries blog posts had videos, 2 of the 6 did not have closed captioning available. Embedded videos need closed captioning available in the video player.

How to make embedded videos accessible

First, only embed videos that have closed captioning available. Check if a video has closed captioning by checking the “CC” button in the video player. If you make your own video and upload it to YouTube (0r another service like Vimeo), be sure to add closed captions.

For now, we cannot auto-enable closed captioning on WordPress. However, if you upload your own video to YouTube, you can auto-enable closed captioning through the Video Manager.

Headings

Content organization is critical to any work on the web, and headings play a central role in how users with and without screen readers engage with our work. Skimming is made possible for all users when headings with heading tags are used. A heading tag is a small piece of HTML code that differentiates headings and sub-headings from the rest of your content and give your blog post structure.

Screen readers preview headings with heading tags at the start of each article, ignoring text that is bolded or a larger font size. Thus, with the use of heading tags, more users are able to preview content and skim sections.

For example, look at the structure of this post. It is made more readable by use of two heading sizes. Each of the three practices we’re highlighting in this post starts with an explanation section. Then, a smaller heading distinguishes the “How to” portion of each practice.

On IU Libraries blogs, only 6 of the 47 blogs used headings. Only 2 posts using heading tags, and the other 4 bolded the text to make it appear like a heading. Headings are important to insert as signposts for readers and should indicate what a paragraph or as section is about. As mentioned above, they also facilitate skimming, allowing a user to get to the content they are looking for as efficiently as possible.

How to insert heading tags

To insert heading tags, first select the text you want to make a heading. Then, click on the drop-down menu with “Paragraph,” and select the numerical heading tag you want to add. This will add the heading tags to your post. You can see them in the “Text” tab, next to “Visual” in the GIF below. For example, for the heading below, the code would read <h2> Hello world. </h2>.

GIF of process of adding heading tags. It begins with the user typing Hello world and selecting the text. It then shows the user selecting Heading 2 and the text gets bigger.

There are six sizes of heading tags, beginning with <h1>and ending with <h6>. H1 is usually reserved for blog titles. H2 tags are used to create sections within your blog post, and H3 tags allow for easier navigation within those sections. You use heading tags in numerical order. For example, you would use H4 for creating sub sections under a section that was headed with H3.

Alternative text and captions

Alt text, or alternative text, allows screen-reading tools to describe images for users with visual impairments. Web content creators must add descriptive, useful alt text when uploading images for blog posts. Descriptive captions can take the place of alt text. Images that are mostly text, like an infographic or a poem, should include a “text version” for screen readers within the body of the blog post.

30 out of the 47 IU Libraries blogs consulted (64%) had issues with image accessibility. Some posts did not have any descriptions of images for screen readers, while some had vague captions that did not accurately communicate what is pictured.

How to add alt text and captions

To add alternative text to images or GIFS, like the one included above, click on the media you have added to your post and select the pencil or “Edit” button. Here, you will be able to add alternative text and/or a caption.

Remember that captions and alt text should not repeat information directly from the text, but, instead, should describe what the image is and what the viewer is able to see. For example, let’s say we wrote a post about the legacy of the Bloomington-classic Breaking Away. We might include this image of the movie poster.

Breaking Away Movie Poster from 1979 courtesy IMDb. The poster depicts four young men sitting on a grassy hill with the quote ‘The movie that tells you exactly what you can do with your high school diploma’ above them in the sky.
Breaking Away Movie Poster, (1979), Courtesy IMDb.

This caption describes what the image is, a movie poster, while indicating it is for the movie we are writing about, the year it was made, and the source of the image; however, it doesn’t describe what is in the image itself. To make this a better “descriptive” caption, we could add this in the alt text: “Breaking Away Movie Poster from 1979 courtesy IMDb. The poster depicts four young men sitting on a grassy hill with the quote ‘The movie that tells you exactly what you can do with your high school diploma’ above them in the sky.” This caption describes what the image is and gives the reader a sense of what the poster looks like.

A note on WHO authors blog posts

Student work is critical to the services and resources we provide. A student worker primarily wrote this blog post! But unfortunately, our blog audit showed that many posts written by students or temporary employees were less accessible than other posts. Please educate all blog creators about how to create accessible content. (Hint: this post is a great way to do it!)  This is a skill they can tout in their next job interview.

Accessibility is usability

By ensuring embedded videos have closed captioning, organizing blog posts with headings, and providing alternative text or descriptive captions for images, we can make IU Libraries Blogs more usable for all viewers. At some point, the practices outlined here will likely be compiled into a larger accessibility policy or practices document that will cover more than just library blogs. If or when that happens, this post will be updated to provide links to any new documentation.

If you have questions about the methods featured here or want to learn about other ways to make your web content more accessible, email DUX department head, Jaci Wilkinson, at wilkinj @ iu . edu. She also welcomes your feedback about these guidelines.

 

DÜX BÜX rides again!

Fall semester has kicked in! Your desk is piled high with to-do lists and notes, Inbox Zero is just a nice dream you once had, and your calendar is bulging with meetings.

Meetings! They’re a huge part of the workday – and of the experience of being an employee. Meetings are part of your everyday UX. They are created on purpose, and like most anything else, they can be redesigned to provide better UX and to be a more effective tool.

Never thought of it that way? You’ll want to join DÜX BÜX, our monthly UX book club, for the next book on our reading list: “Read This Before Our Next Meeting” by Al Pittampalli.

Some of us have had this book on our reading lists and/or on our Kindles for a while now, and we thought this fall would be a nice time to dive into it. It’s only 80 pages in hardcover, so each month’s “assignment” shouldn’t be too onerous – and, as always, you’re welcome to attend the meetings even if you haven’t done the reading. We are a judgement-free book club!

The book is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle formats (as well as on Audible or audio CD if you are so inclined), and the Business/SPEA IC has a copy in IUCAT with a second copy on order. Feel free to read either the first or second edition, whichever is easier for you to get your hands on; it looks like the changes are relatively minor.

We’ll be meeting from 12:00-1:00 (feel free to bring your lunch!) on the following dates (contact anyone in DUX for location details):
Tuesday, September 12 – Chapter 1: “What Do You Do For A Living?”
Tuesday, October 10 – Chapter 2: “The Seven Principles of Modern Meetings” (or, if you have the 2nd edition, “The Eight Principles of Modern Meetings”)
Tuesday, November 14 – Chapter 3: “You Must Decide”
Tuesday, December 12 – Chapter 4: “The Modern Meeting Standard” plus “Frequently Asked Questions” and “More questions?”

All IU librarians & library staff are welcome to join us!

Read more about the genesis of DÜX BÜX (and why the umlaut?) and about our spring semester readings.

2017 #BookClubGoals – DUX BÜX: We’re BÄÄÄÄÄCK

That’s right, we’re back for installment two. Join us monthly for a lively discussion – or follow along on the internet, perhaps? If anyone is interested in asynchronous, remote participation, holler out and let us know; we’ll try to loop you in. This is a friendly book club – we bring snacks, you don’t have to have pored over every word to attend, etc.

Below, the info as it appeared in our staff newsletter yesterday:

Happy new year, and welcome to the second installment of DUX BÜX (ducks boooks). This book club, founded by us in fall 2016, is open to all librarians and staff with the goal of encouraging discussion of UX issues throughout the Libraries.

This semester, we are pleased to be reading Intertwingled: Information Changes Everything by Peter Morville. Why this book? This much-praised title is “a spirited tour of information architecture, user experience, and systems thinking that reveals how everything is connected from code to culture.” Sounds fun to us!

We will shortly have an office copy of this title (inquire within) and one circulating copy within the collection (on-order as of today, Jan 19). It is available for purchase via Amazon in print format for $15 or via Kindle for $9.99 (remember that you can read Kindle books using the Kindle app on any phone, tablet or laptop [https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp]).

Schedule

  • January 24th: Chapter 1
  • February 21st: Chapter 2
  • March 21st: Chapter 3
  • April 18th: Chapter 4
  • May 2nd: Chapter 5

DUX BÜX, or – Every Book Club Needs an Umlaut

We all have goals. Write that book, run that marathon, build a better mousetrap … start a book club with an umlaut in the title.

Actually, it didn’t have to be a book club. I just LOVE umlauts, and some tiny part of me has been waiting for the chance to shoehorn one into some professional endeavor for years. Lucky you, that time has come!

We’re starting a book club, and we’re calling it DUX BÜX (ahem, that’s ducks boooks, please say it with feeling). We hope you’ll join us. Below, find the brief blurb we’ve shared in our staff newsletter.

I think you’ll really enjoy this book –  I know we have. It’s pithy, it’s useful, and, let’s be honest: it has gigantic type and lots of pictures. So there’s no excuse for not showing up having read the first chapter next week.

User experience (UX) encompasses everything related to how people experience the library: how easy it is (or isn’t) to find what you need on the website, signage, customer service, how books are shelved, you name it. Let’s talk about this! To encourage discussion of UX issues throughout the Libraries, DUX is starting a book club, open to all librarians and staff.

Our first book will be How To Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby Covert – freely available online and relatively inexpensive to purchase in print format. (We’ll also have a ‘reserve’ copy – ask us directly at our usual email) This highly readable book will help you understand the field of information architecture, and how to clean up just about any kind of “mess”– whether it’s a hopeless file drawer, a cluttered kitchen, a terrifying tenure dossier, or a website.

Join us monthly for a lively discussion. You bring thoughts and questions, we’ll bring snacks! All meetings are from 12-1p.

September 27th: Chapter 1
October 18th: Chapters 2 & 3
November 15th: Chapters 4 & 5
December 6th: Chapters 6 & 7

Speaking of books, which as a librarian is an occupational hazard, if you’re interested in user experience, think you might be, or just want to look like you are, these two recommended reading lists from UXBooth are chock full of great content.

See you next week!

Content Strategy as a Model of Web Stewardship

brown bag with Steve Jobs' photo on it
Steve Jobs Ultra-Geek Lunch Bag | Photo Giddy on flickr

Heads up! Two-thirds of DRS – that would be Courtney McDonald and Anne Haines – will be presenting a short talk in the IU Libraries’ Digital Library Brown Bag series, coming up Wednesday, September 9th at noon (Eastern Daylight Time).

Content Strategy as a Model of Web Stewardship: Content strategy is an emerging area of expertise related to user experience design work, defined as “planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.” This session will provide a brief overview of content strategy concepts and describe how a well-articulated content strategy can enable a better user experience through thinking holistically and strategically about web content — in other words, in stewardship. We’ll also present a brief case study of how, through implementing these tools and processes, our small department was empowered to stop simply chasing web pages around and instead invest our efforts into crafting a user-centric, sustainable web presence for the IUB Libraries (http://libraries.indiana.edu).

So if you’re curious about content strategy, the Libraries’ website, making websites more user-centric, or how many cute kittens and puppies we found a home for in our slide deck, either come to Hazelbaker Hall in the Wells Library (E159, behind the reference desk in the Scholars’ Commons) or tune in online at http://connect.iu.edu/diglib.

The presentation will be archived if you can’t make it next week. If you do attend, either on-site or online, plan to share your thoughts and questions on Twitter using the hashtag #dlbb. We look forward to seeing some of you!

Later this semester the other one-third of DRS, Rachael Cohen, will be speaking about our library catalog and user-centered design approach – watch for that in November, and check out the full fall semester DLBB series schedule.

 

Putting the User First

Cover image of Putting the User FirstWe here in Discovery & Research Services are VERY happy to congratulate our fearless leader, Courtney McDonald, on the publication of her new book! Putting the User First: 30 Strategies for Transforming Library Services, published by ACRL, can (and should! do it!) be purchased via the ALA Store online.

I haven’t had time to read the book yet, but I’ve spent a few minutes skimming through it, so I have some first impressions. It’s a small square book, entirely unintimidating; each of its short chapters explores one thing that you can do to make your library better for its users (patrons, customers, whatEVER). I imagine this as a book you’d have sitting on your desk for a while, and maybe you’d pick it up and read one chapter every morning before diving into the workday. Sort of a “daily meditation” thing, although the whole point of the book is to actually DO something, not just meditate about it. Those who know Courtney will find a familiar voice throughout – conversational, whimsical, but in the end very practical.

Here’s a peek inside the book. This is the content strategy chapter. Yes, I totally cut off the side of the right-hand page. I have no shame – you’ll just have to buy it if you want to see what’s there… 🙂

Partial view of the "Curate" chapter

Congratulations to Courtney!

Your Website is a Verb: Persuading Librarians to Let Go

Loyal readers of this blog (hi Mom!) will recall that last year I attended an amazing content strategy conference, Confab. I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to attend again this year – and in fact, thanks to a Professional Development Grant from the IU Bloomington Professional Staff Council, this time around I get to include a full-day workshop the day before the conference proper. So excited!

So when the Confab organizers sent out a call for lightning talk proposals – five-minute talks, using twenty slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds – I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Lo and behold, when I was on vacation last week – I was in the middle of the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, of all places, when I happened to check my email – I got the amazing news that my proposal had been accepted. (The Johnny Cash Museum is very very cool, by the way. Highly recommended.) I’ll be presenting along with six other content strategists on May 8th – here’s the list of topics, and here’s the proposal I submitted (the rule was that it had to be three sentences):

Your Website is a Verb: Persuading Librarians to Let Go

In a large academic research library, “KEEP ALL OF THE THINGS” is a legitimate part of our mission. While that’s a useful mission when it comes to books, it spells disaster for a website, something that became both painfully clear and critically important to address during a recent CMS migration. I’ll talk about persuading librarians – a tough crowd – to let go of some of their content in the interest of providing an active and engaging experience for their users, and I promise not to invoke that song from “Frozen” in the process.

I’m super excited, a little terrified (last year every presenter at Confab was amazing, so they have high standards), and really looking forward to hearing what the other presenters have to say!

Training Schedule for New IUB Libraries Website

The DRS are inAt last, the new IUB Libraries website is… not quite polished and ready for prime time, but close enough that we are ready to create logins for librarians & staff members so you can begin working on your content! The training schedule has been announced via the Libraries Website listserv and in “Between the Lines” – if you have not yet RSVP’d for the session(s) most appropriate for you, please do so by emailing Anne.

 

Here’s the schedule for group training sessions – all in Instruction Cluster 1 of the Information Commons:

Branch Libraries & Library Departments – Librarians & Staff W 3/12 10:00-11:00
T 3/18 10:00-11:00
R 3/20 1:00-2:00
Subject Guides – Librarians & Staff T 3/11 10:00-11:00
F 3/14 2:00-3:00
W 3/19 2:00-3:00
M 3/31 4:00-5:00
Temporary (Student) Employees T 3/25 10:00-11:00
W 3/26 3:00-4:00
F 3/28 11:00-12:00
General Session – for those who just have a few pages to maintain T 4/1 10:00-11:00
W 4/2 2:00-3:00

NEW SESSIONS – JUST ADDED:

Libraries & Departments: News, features, services, and more – M 4/14 2:00-3:00

Introduction/Refresher: Finding & creating basic content – T 4/15 1:00-1:30

Subject Guides: Posts, concentrations, categories, and more – W 4/16 10:00-11:00

Libraries & Departments: News, features, services, and more – T 4/22 10:00-11:00

Subject Guides: Posts, concentrations, categories, and more – W 4/23 3:00-4:00

Introduction/Refresher: Finding & creating basic content – R 4/24 10:00-10:30

 

The members of Discovery & Research Services (Courtney, Rachael, and Anne) will also be staffing “office hours” for those who have questions or need help with a specific issue on their pages. Look for announcements on the website listserv and in Between the Lines very soon – but because you’re reading our blog and thus are one of our favorite people, here’s the schedule just for you:

Monday, March 17 through Wednesday, May 7 in Wells W531

  • Mondays: 11:00-1:00 (NOTE: no office hours on April 7)
  • Wednesdays: 10:00-11:00 (NOTE: no office hours on April 9 or 16)
  • Fridays: 3:00-5:00 (NOTE: no office hours on April 18 or May 9)

People, get ready – there’s a train(ing) a-comin’!

Updates on IUB Libraries website: Duck – it’s coming!

Ducks flying
preparing for launch!

You’ve been hearing about the Libraries’ website migration for quite a while now – and things are starting to happen fast! If you are on the CM Users list (and if you contribute content to the Libraries’ website, you should be), you have already started to hear about the process.

What’s happened so far:

  • By now you should have put any outdated, unused, unfinished, or “test” pages into “Pending” status in the CM – and maybe you’ve even gotten bold and deleted some of them (if so, you get a gold star). If you still have pages you intend to delete, that’s OK too; it will be easy to delete them in the new site.
  • We have migrated the content of all pages (except for class pages, pending pages, and the old collection pages) from the old CM into the new Drupal site.

What you need to do (or not do) now:

  • Any edits or changes made after December 3 will need to be recreated in the new site. Therefore, please continue to make only necessary, urgent changes to your CM pages and hold off on any major new development until the new site is available.
  • Very soon, we will “freeze” the old Content Manager so that most users will no longer be able to access it. We have identified a few users who have urgent updates to make on a regular basis – e.g. front page news items, staff directory updates, job postings, newly acquired or changed resources – and those users will be given special access to make those updates.
  • If you have other emergency changes that need to be made, such as updates to library services or policies, please email comments@indiana.edu and we will assist you.
  • Watch the CM Users list (soon to be the Drupal users list) for more information and updates!

The new Drupal site will not be available to our website users (students, faculty, etc.) until we (and you!) have had a chance to clean it up and make sure everything is working properly; see the timeline below for details on this process. Through the end of Spring semester 2014, everyone (patrons and library staff) will still use the old website, www.libraries.iub.edu.

Here’s the timeline:

  • Soon – Content Manager is “frozen” for all but identified urgent updates
  • December through early January: DRS works on content and structural cleanup in the new site
  • Early January – Spring Break: staff logins available on new site; Drupal training for librarians & library staff; staff begins cleaning up content on new site and may begin creating new content on new site as needed.
  • Spring Break: New (“beta”) site made publicly available via the old site. Students & faculty may access and use either new or old site.
  • End of spring semester: cut-over. Old site is taken down and the new site becomes the Libraries’ official website.   

Ways that DRS can help you:

  • We have several temporary employees (ILS students) who will be available into the spring semester to help with cleanup and editing work on your pages.
  • In consultation with Becky Wood, Anne will be publishing a Web Style Guide to help you make your web content work better, and to outline guidelines for specific content types.
  • We will continue to stay in touch via this listserv. If any of your colleagues or student workers have web responsibilities, please check with them to make sure they are subscribed to the CM Users list!

 

If you have questions about this process, please talk to anyone in DRS. You can also email comments@indiana.edu or use the “Contact Us” link on this blog to send us a message. We know this is a huge job for everyone and we hope to make it as easy as possible!

 

Talking About A New Website: a series of DUX Brown Bag Conversations

Image of brown lunch bagYou asked, we listened: DUX is excited to announce that we will soon have a brand new Library website.  Next to the catalog, the website is probably our most used staff tool – not to mention its public-facing functions: providing access to our collections and resources, informing users about our services, and generally assisting us in supporting research and teaching needs of our campus.

With a project this large and complex, there are lots of questions. So, in order to help us better inform you about the upcoming conversion of the Libraries’ website to a shiny new Drupal environment, and to ensure that all library staff have plenty of chances to ask us questions, DUX will be hosting a series of brown-bag conversations. These will take place from noon-1 pm on the last Thursday of each month in Wells 043, and all IUB Libraries staff (including hourly) and librarians are welcome to attend. Please join us – we promise to make it fun as well as informative. There might even be treats and prizes involved! Bring your lunch, your questions, and your colleagues.

Dates and topics are as follows:

March 28: Timeline
What’s the plan? When is this all happening? What do we need to do? We will address these kinds of nuts and bolts questions to help everyone get comfortable with the project timeline.

April 25: Training
How will the new site work? What support is there for migrating and updating pages? Who’s going to do it all? …

May 30: Transition
At some point we have to flip the big switch in the sky and go from the old site to the new site. We’ll talk about that and about all the details that go along with it – what about all those bookmarks? …

June 20*: Trends and Testing Postponed
We’ll have something new to show off and we’ll all be curious how people are taking to it right away. We’ll present information about initial user reactions we’ve collected and outline a plan for ongoing user testing for the new site.

*Note: a week early this month due to ALA

July 25: Teaching Postponed
So we have this new website! How are we going to help our students and faculty understand the best ways to use it for their research needs? We’ll talk about using the site in “traditional” library instruction and at the reference desk, as well as other ways to communicate with our constituents about the new site.

August 22*: Tips and Tricks
The summer’s over, so here they come. This session will focus on gearing up for the new semester with a new site.

*Note: a week early this month due to classes beginning

_______________

brown bag photo credit: axmai on flickr