Archive for the ‘accessibility’ Category

I secured a place in a biography of a prominent scientist or: The longest birthday party I ever attended

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

The story starts at the late 1980’s, at which time I did my M.Sc. work under Prof. Jacob Klein.  It was a strike of luck for me, as I did not set out to look for a top notch advisor, but ended up having such an advisor.

Twenty years later, as one of his former M.Sc. students, I was invited to a workshop, which was dedicated to his 60th birthday, and which was held between 21-23 June this year.  I was happy to attend it, soak some science, and meet old acquaintances.

The workshop was relatively small and intimate.  There were few tens of participants, and several of them also lectured and presented posters.  Most of them were students, collaborators or colleagues of Prof. Klein.  At the workshop’s end, people remarked about the high quality of research described in the lectures.  Scientists were also not afraid to venture forth from their zones of comfort and discuss also subjects about which they did not have all the answers.  So one could notice that some post-lecture questions were answered by “I do not know”.

Rachel Yerushalmi-Rozen, one of the workshop organizers, arranged for me full coverage of notetakers so that I could follow all lectures.  They did good enough work so that I was not bored, even though fundamental cognitive and motor limits of humans prevented them from writing down everything that was being said during the lectures.  The notetakers had to be proficient with the terminology used in the lectures, so they were students of the workshop’s organizers.

The first part of the workshop was held in Schmidt Auditorium in Weizmann Institute of Science, and when it ended, a group photo of the participants was taken.  Such group photos often end up in biographies of scientists, who participated in them.  The caliber of the workshop’s participants was such that several of them are current or future prominent scientists.

In one of the evenings we were treated to a dinner and a rare night visit in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo (see also in the Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_Biblical_Zoo).  After the night tour, still in the zoo, Prof. Klein blew out candles on his birthday cake and we were treated to a presentation of photos of highlights of his life, so that the 3-day workshop would qualify also as a birthday party.

An accessible video clip

Friday, May 30th, 2008

… which is in stark contrast to the ultra-Orthodox attitude against people with disabilities.

The captioned (in Hebrew) video clip is the second video in http://www.hofesh.org.il/articles/books/books.html (in Hebrew), and it is about a book shop, which avoids displaying an anti-religion book due to threats from the town’s rabbi’s wife.

A new software developers’ mutual help Web site (no longer) rudely excludes deaf software developers

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

The newly announced http://www.stackoverflow.com/ Web site confines all communications to the audio format. No provision for textual transcription of the audio podcasts exists. Users’ submissions are accepted only if they are in audio format. This is probably the founders’ newest idea for filtering out spam and flames.
However, it is a case of rude inaccessibility. Please do not contribute and do not browse the Web site - and let the founders know your opinion about this case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
The announcements in the founders’ blogs are as follows:

What next, a Web site, which excludes gay software developers?

23 APR 2008 UPDATE:

The podcasts are now transcribed into text, making them accessible to the deaf as well as being helpful to people, who want to discover them using search engines, and people having no time to listen through the entire podcast.
The transcription mechanism is Wiki-based, allowing people to transcribe text piece by piece. So even if you have only 15 minutes to spare, you can still make a contribution.
It is still necessary to persuade them to accept questions as text in addition to sound clips…

The Earth Hour and the Deaf

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I am not going to participate in the Earth Hour, which is due to be held tonight in Tel Aviv between 20:00-21:00.
This is in spite of my support for the idea of taking care of our environment.
The reason - due to my deafness, I need light and various electronic appliances to communicate with other people.
Note: I do not live in Tel Aviv itself, but I’d participate in the project if it were not for the accessibility issue.

Additional links:

    Are you the Webmaster of an IE-only Web site?

    Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

    Then the following is a must read for you:

    How Not To Do Market Research

    Web sites, which support only IE, would not be visited by people, who use other browsers. So OF COURSE, they would not “report enough traffic to justify” support for W3C standards and/or other browsers.

    By the way, my Web site’s browser statistics since the start of November 2007 indicate the following browser percentages (disclaimer for Israeli Webmasters: my Web site’s audience is international):

    MS Internet Explorer 42.6%
    Mozilla 31.7%
    Unknown 12.5%
    Firefox 9.7%
    All the rest 3.5%

    Blogging About Disabilities

    Sunday, September 9th, 2007

    I write in this blog not only about crazy ideas, but also about accessibility and deafness.

    Lorelle on WordPress wrote a blog article about people who blog about disabilities. This article repeats the old stuff (known to people with disabilities, but not widely known otherwise) about the percentage of people disabilities in the general population, mentions the relevant legal issues (specific to USA), and links to several relevant and interesting blogs.

    The above article also refers the readers to Globe of Blogs - Disabled Blogs for more disabled blog links.

    Videoclips with subtitles - Halelujah!

    Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

    Ilan Shavit publicized three videoclips about Israel.

    I was happy to be surprised to see that those videoclips have subtitles in Hebrew, making them accessible to the hearing impaired, who know Hebrew!

    The links to the videoclips are:

    1. Israel - Part 1
    2. Israel - Part 2
    3. Israel - Part 3

    "Do you need assistance?"

    Thursday, April 26th, 2007

    Recently I flew with British Airways.
    They seem to have recently made commitment to provide accessible experience to passengers with special needs.
    At any case, when checking in for flights, I was now asked if I need special assistance. The accessibility program seems to be relatively new - they now know how to deal with passengers with difficulties in walking, but deaf passengers are relatively new experience for them. So I had my turn at educating the airline employees that deaf passengers need a way to see the captain’s messages in writing, especially in emergencies.
    The airplanes, in which I flew both directions, had plasma TVs for each seat. However the video programs were suspended whenever there were announcements - with no written rendition of the announcements. This is something, which can be improved.
    An hilarious experience was when the airplane neared landing. I was asked by two stewards if I need assistance. I explained that I’ll need assistance, only if we crash land, and the captain gives instructions to the passengers. We all laughed.

    Rabbi Eliashiv declared war on the deaf!

    Sunday, February 4th, 2007

    Rabbi Eliashiv, an Haredi rabbi, issued a ruling forbidding schools under his control to admit children, whose parents are using non-”kosher” cellphones (cellphones with intact ability to use SMS, Internet and video).

    This ruling adversely affects deaf people, who need to be in contact those parents due to reasons like:

    1. They work with those parents and need to communicate them as part of their job.
    2. They themselves are deaf children of those parents.

    It is necessary to take legal action, with the aim of outlawing cellphones without functional SMS, and outlawing discrimination against deaf parents of haredi school children, who use video for Sign Language communication via 3G cellphones.

    Sources (in Hebrew for the time being):

    Petition! (in Hebrew)

    Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

    In addition to few massive lawsuits, there is also a petition to add captions to all Hebrew language TV broadcasts in Israel, for the benefit of the hearing impaired. You can find it in http://www.azuma.co.il/show_petition.pl?id=889.