Skills day 2008: instant presenter

Cary MacMahon – TechDis, and Alistair McNaught

Cary set up Instant Presenter to demonstrate the tool, and then Alistair presented on accessible email from Winchester, using Instant Presenter.

Download Alistair’s presentation as a PDF:
Alistair McNaught: accessible communication

Accessible emails
Small things can make a big difference for everybody but a particular difference for disabled readers.

Contact details on an email are not always picked up effectively by screenreaders, they do not always pick up the proper email addresses, just the name. So a simple thing to do is to make sure that have proper email address in your signature.

A less obvious issue is making no reference to attachments in the main body of the email. Good practice is to say that there is an attachment (and how many) and why and ensure that the file name is sensible and self-explanatory.

If you send someone an email they will often reply by pasting the text in and some email clients automatically put in the angle brackets to denote the quoted text. A sighted person can scroll down and work it out but if you are listening to it is a mind-bogglingly boring series of ‘angle bracket, angle bracket’ interspersed among the useful text. You may not know if the person you are emailing is using a screenreader or not. So be very selective in the bits you pick out.

Subject headers: if the subject changes so should the header. It may make sense at the time but when it comes to filing, searching for them against afterwards etc then it becomes tricky.

Getting to meetings without going to meetings
This right here is accessibility in its rawest sense – it’s hard for me to be with you and yet I am with you. We are practicing what we preach today.

Britain is big (and as an ex-geographer I can say that with conviction!). Techdis are widely spread so we do a large proportion of our work online. But, let’s be realistic, there are disadvantages – including the human soft stuff such as don’t get to share lunch, sit down and chat to people you haven’t met before. But also things like body language where you could offend somebody and have no idea. There is also absent presence – I don’t know if you’ve all left the room. Also the issue of reduced fluidity – there could be technical glitches and also latencies so if Cary started using a mic a conversation would be much slower.

But, given those disadvantages, what do we do? Talk to experts, talk to each other etc. can be a very engaging experience. There is huge personal time saving and also corporate savings in productivity. Also environmental impacts – saved huge amounts of CO2 by not travelling the 3,000 miles I might have done last year by not going to conferences and by contributing online instead. Can also contribute to far more events:
2004-05: 47 events
2006-07: 101 events
Huge benefits of agility and reach and flexibility. Low costs of time and money and archivable.

1 thought on “Skills day 2008: instant presenter

  1. Gerard Hayes

    I always learn something from Alastair’s presentations -the challenges of on line always needs to be kept in mind as well as the benefits which is why we are increasing our usage of similar tools.

    Should the font choice (accesibility considerations) for these comments be enabled?

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