Session Transcripts

A live transcription team captured the SRCCON sessions that were most conducive to a written record—about half the sessions, in all.

Accessibility in media

Session facilitator(s): Joanna S. Kao, John Burn-Murdoch

Day & Time: Thursday, 4-5pm

Room: Classroom 305

JOHN: Hey, folks. So –

JOANNA: So we’re really excited that you’re here, we’re going to be talking about accessibility media, and we’re not going to be talking at you for a whole hour, so don’t worry. We’re going to talk for maybe five minutes to set the tone for what we mean by accessibility, what we think about it, and how we should be thinking about it, and then splitting up into groups, and then coming back and talking about the groups.

So I guess I’ll introduce myself first, I’m Joanna S. Kao, I work at the FT, along with John Burn-Murdoch. And I think we’re going to start by maybe having everyone around the room say your name and what you do. Maybe start here.

JOHN: You can say where you work if you want to, but main thing is who you are and what you generally consider your job to be.

JOANNA: Yeah, and if you don’t want to be transcribed, just say off the record, and our wonderful transcriber wil transcribe it.

JOHN: So in that context, I’m John, and I’m data visualization journalist, so dealing with audios and visuals.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Dana, I’m an interactive designer from Dallas.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Brittany, I am a developer with the interactive graphics team at Bloomberg.

PARTICIPANT: I’m a graphics developer craft team.

PARTICIPANT: I work for a tech organization called smart Chicago where I combine a program usability.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Taylor with the news fund, we have a internship program but my job is all things creative for the Web, social media, and programs.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Katie, journalist.

PARTICIPANT: I’m an intern, I work with a lot of customer support.

PARTICIPANT: I’m robin, I work with Joanna special projects.

PARTICIPANT: I work at the Texas tribe union on data visuals.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Brian, I run a website at New York Times.

JOANNA: Around here.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Audrey, I’m a news apps developer for the Seattle times.

PARTICIPANT: Hi, I’m Sharice, I’m an interactive media producer at ESPN undefeated in Washington D.C.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Alex, I’m a developer and coding instructor from Omaha.

PARTICIPANT: I’m judge of the law I can’t, I do design and Web development for the institute of nonprofit use.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Sarah, I edit for data graphic visuals at data media group.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Sam, and I work for NBC and MSNBC, and I do data recording.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Stephanie, I manage a team of engineers and customer support.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Helga, I’m a special media producer at the Seattle times.

JOHN: Awesome and two that just joined us.

PARTICIPANT: I work at fusion, I work as an engineer.

PARTICIPANT: I’m Steve. I’m the investigative and director manager editor.

JOHN: Cool.

JOANNA: Sounds like we have a really diverse group of people that do a lot of different things. So that should work out really well when we break out.

JOHN: So sorry. That wasn’t purely to make everyone stand out. Just to get an idea of our specialties and stuff.

JOANNA: So basically our session, we’re just going to spend a couple of minutes talking about what accessibility is, what our definition is, so we can kind of set the tone for what your conversation’s going to be like. We’re going to break out into groups and talk about within different design developments or social media or content, or how you guys want to break up of different issues of accessibility that we see in our news organizations, either as a connoisseur or someone working in news. We’re going to talk about it and then second session we’re going to talk about solutions we’ve found or solutions that other people have talked about and that’s mostly it.

We will at the end of this—at the end of this talk, we have a mailing list that we’ve set up. So for people who are interested in talking—continuing to talk about accessibility and media particularly in journalism, and stay in touch and also like to share resources. At your tables, you guys should have a sheet of resources and tips. So if accessibility is something you’ve never thought about before, you can look there to get a sense of are what are some of the prompts and questions you can be thinking about. Otherwise take it home, or you can also find it online at our GitHub interactive.GitHub/accessibility.

JOANNA: We both tweeted it out. So if you follow us on tweeter, you’ll find it there.

JOHN: Et cete.

Cool. Yeah, so to save everyone, now I’m going to go through a very overview of what accessibility is or at least what—the difference between what what—the terms of accessibility is audio, visual, and ability and the issues they might throw up. So you can’t read it on a screen if you’re a screen reader or podcast you can’t actually see. And to give you an idea of the numbers of people affected by that, about 15% of people in America have some kind of auditory ability issue, which means they can’t hear either at all or properly.

2 or 3% of all U.S.—the whole U.S. population has visual impairment whether that’s complete blindness, an ability to recognize, contrast, or colorblindness. But if you look at people age of over 65, that goes to 7 or 8%. So coming from the Financial Times where most of our readers are that kind of age. Something we have to be particularly worried about. And then, yea. Essentially so those are the core physical ability groups that most people think about, when they think about accessibility. But the key thing we’re trying to say is that actually extends—accessibility extends far beyond that.

So think about just as I’m talking, think about times when you’ve had to—I don’t know maybe you’ve been on a crowded, like, metro, and you want to watch a video, but you can’t fumble out to put your earphones and this video is playing and you’ve got sound. In that environment, there’s an accessibility there that’s affecting you. Similarly there might be something you have a coffee in one hand, and you’re trying to tap the phone screen with the other one and the tap bar is too small. That’s another one.

Really simple one. Think about when you’re designing something for a mobile phone rather than for desktop. That’s an accessibility issue. You may just think about it as a core part of your design process, but it’s an accessibility issue. It’s about making sure that people in certain scenarios and environments are able to access your journalism easier.

And even that is still thinking about quite technical terms. So there’s a really, really great series on the foundation website at the moment about much more diverse meaning of accessibility. So translation.

If you’ve written a piece which has very important insights in it for people from a country that for most of us here going to be a country where people don’t necessarily speak English, translating that not necessarily Google translate, again, is a accessibility. So that people watching the story can understand it fully.

You can even go into the representation of different communities in stories. How do you make this story accessible to someone who isn’t necessarily empathetic and the people using the story. So interviewing people from minorities and that kind of thing to make sure that a person from a minority is reading a piece can more easily register what you’re writing.

So, yeah, there’s huge realms of stuff on accessibility comes into play, and hopefully that gives you an idea of examples of an issue, what exactly we’re talking about.

JOANNA: So do you guys have any questions, first of all, before we kind of break up into groups? No? Okay.

So we’re going to try to break you guys up into groups either by what you can on or what you’re interested in. Hopefully in the sense you’ll be able to take back what you guys talk about as a group back to your newsrooms. So off the top of our heads, we were thinking of design group, develop worker, social media group, and audio and video group. And then people who work on product or QA. Does that seem—is there someone in here who doesn’t feel like they could pick one of those five groups? Awesome. Okay. So let’s try to do—let’s do like a design table here, let’s do a developer table here, social media table back there, what else?

JOHN: Product.

JOANNA: Product QA, like, there. So if you’re a manager, maybe try to do the product QA group.

JOANNA: Feel free to switch around if you need to.

JOANNA: Okay. So we’re going to spend about ten minutes in the first small group talking about issues of accessibility that you’ve seen within your categories. So this is kind of the design developer group, behind there is project manager—product team, project manager, QA, and social media. Talking about some issues that you’ve seen in your own work and also issues you’ve seen as a consumer of news. You can actually take inspiration also from news, you can take it from fear or museums or education. But, yeah, we’re just going to give you about ten minutes. So when it turns 4:23, we’re going to come back and talk about what you guys have discussed. If you have nothing to talk about, we have tips in the resource sheet, so you can start there. Otherwise, go for it.

[Group collaboration]

JOANNA: So we’re going to take five minutes to talk about what you guys talked about in your groups. The purpose is to share the differences in your own groups and then the second breakout session is going to be talking about some solutions.

So let’s start, who wants to start?

JOHN: We’ll start here. Should we do group by group or one by one?

JOANNA: By group.

JOHN: So give us –

PARTICIPANT: So we have, like—yeah, a lot. Like, three whole sheets. We’ll go through a couple of them I guess. The fact that because there’s a lack of awareness or knowledge of the issue, it doesn’t really come up in planning meetings around when we make new products or stories basically. We have discussion about if you have okay. Well, what’s your responsibilities to the subscriber in accessibility issues.

Text formatting is a big pet peeve for a lot of us includi low contrast of light.

JOHN: Anything about your background.


JOHN: Cool. Let’s get started.

JOANNA: We’ll go to the social media group.

JOHN: Social mediaish group. Issues that came up?

PARTICIPANT: Yeah. Well, we talked a lot about two of us, at least two of us have angry tweets—spreading to the culture that we’re not a trustworthy site or newsworthy organizati let them read our stuff or it should be free or we can find the news elsewhere. But also a cultural problem because a lot of times coworker or superiors don’t see the necessity of social media and how things are changing. So it’s kind of, like, navigating that and teaching them why this is important and how to think differently about it and that kind of thing.

JOHN: Cool.

JOANNA: You want to go?

PARTICIPANT: We discussed a lot of things too. I’m going to say one thing that we discussed w accessibility for people who were visually impaired or hard-of-hearing. And how they are able to access things. So if you don’t code things correctly or if you don’t—yeah, if you don’t code things correctly then, you know, the screen readers won’t pick it up, and it’s no longer accessible to people like that.

We also talked about—oh, I guess—well, this is like a we thing but a must in this culture now. Mobile responsive design. The majority of your—the majority of your readers are, like, you know, accessing information online, editors or writers are accessing on the desktop all day. Like, how do you—how do you explain sense of urgency that this is an accessibility issue for the majority of the people who, you know, you’re catering to.

PARTICIPANT: One other thing I guess is the lack of knowledge all together about what these people need. I don’t know what a screen reader looks like. And we can use plugins and things but is that real? Is that going to be an accura representation of what’s happening? Can I go out and find someone in the world who uses those and needs them? We don’t do that enough, and it’s not something that we really do.

PARTICIPANT: Also, like, on the website incorporating interactive developments or, for example, video. And we’ve seen a lot more companies use closed captions because sometimes—just normal person doesn’t have the capability of like being on the train and a really loud version of someone talking, you kno? They prefer to read it. So that—I mean just being aware of, like, where your –

PARTICIPANT: Even questioning how much your activity should be, like, translated from desktop to mobile. And at this point not in an accessible way. Just better ways using your fingers instead of a mouse and have a smaller screen. Just –

JOANNA: The last group.

PARTICIPANT: We were talking about something similar too because we’re design and development. But in addition, sometimes people will set their own for not size in the browser, so not turning off the ability to zoom on mobile or using the recommended set of pixels to allow people to do that.

And then also another one that we should take into account more is no JavaScript or, like, allowing people to have ad blockers to, you know, some people turn off data on their plans because they don’t have data plans.

PARTICIPANT: The content is not accessible.

PARTICIPANT: Graphics, nontaxonomies.

JOANNA: Awesome. It sounds like you guys talked about a lot of different things.

JOHN: That was awesome. Amazing stuff there. A. I think there’s an interesting point raiseddish about how closed-captioning is becoming bigger and bigger thing and how it’s funny or not funny how that seems to be happening, but it can affect more normal people. But this wasn’t something people particularly focused on until it was, like, yeah, I’m in the train in the morning and I can’t hear something. It’s just funny that’s the classic thing we fix until the project manager is, like, yeah, you’re right all along. We should do something about this.

Until about five minutes before the session started, we realied that the for not size wasn’t suitable on our tip sheet as well.

JOANNA: Yeah, so we just want to move into another ten minutes where you guys will talk within your groups about some of the solutions to some of the issues that you guys have been raising. So the solution that you guys have been doing at your own news organizations or some solutions that you’ve seen other people do. I would encourage you guys to be looking at that side of the news as well because the news industry often doesn’t—isn’t at the forefront of accessibility, but others are. So I think we’re going to let you guys talk for ten minutes. Does anyone have any questions before we break off again?

JOHN: And by all means, think about solutions that have come up and problems you’ve dealt with accessibility.

Cool. Ten minutes on that.

[Group collaboration]

JOHN: Let’s start with this table this time.

JOANNA: What was something you guys talked about as a group?

PARTICIPANT: One of the last things of rendering content including the page. So just load the content and pulling the content from the server. So that’s one. And also a benchmark, the si. And different performance, JavaScript and CSS.

PARTICIPANT: And also nontechnical levels, having check with things, projects to have easier at the beginning but also at the end to address all of these points.

JOHN: Cool. And to you guys.

PARTICIPANT: One of the things I thought sort of more accessible ways for everyone to present especially data stories. Like look three times to get to things. It shouldn’t be a puzzles or something. We should make it clear instead of having it really complicated, like, map that has dots. We should just fling it out in a more accessi and not putting it out to the viewer to do the work.

PARTICIPANT: Certain plugin and tool that you can use if you know something’s accessible to somebody.

PARTICIPANT: So, like, priorities that seem to be the—use the tools. And then a large for around, like, using the CLS to send content to the users to record, like, what they should be doing. So have hard checks on th CMS prevent or software.

We also had some ideas around making people feel the pain. So—what was it?


PARTICIPANT: I didn’t say poke. It was someone else.

PARTICIPANT: I said poke.

PARTICIPANT: We became more structured of the same way you do device testing. Do, like, mandatory, like, colorblindness and, like, no volume on the computer and low contrast, make the font really small.

PARTICIPANT: Put headphones on them, start shaking them as they’re trying to read. Do everything ann

JOHN: This will be good.


PARTICIPANT: Something I learned in groups is that Google does a little bit preferencal treatment for that. Users care about it.

PARTICIPANT: Yeah. We also talked a little bit about other programs that have—we’re not doing it, having indicators of we have with this type of program. So we’re not doing it, but there’s a clear path to help.

JOANNA: How big the social group?

PARTICIPANT: So we were talking about—so the problem for us is some of the ideas the user trying to engage the and years also being anti rather than holding the story and getting more out of the story to hold your trust and engagement.

PARTICIPANT: I’m sorry I know this is social media. It’s actually something that happened. So apparently a lot of people do have content, put it out there into the world, people want to share it, but they don’t want to take the time to share it. It’s just inconvenient for them to retweet. So there’s tools that could be use to click the tweet. Like, an e-mail blast or something like that and they don’t care about it.

JOANNA: Does anyone have any thoughts on anyone else’s group?

PARTICIPANT: I just had one thing. On the client server side is good. On the client server side, I think a lot of the visualizations is interactive, more complex nonwords idea has been done on the blind side in the past purchase and there’s more ways to move to the server to render a lot of what we’ve done, and I think a little bit especially for that.

So I think moving more over to the server I think will allow us to more advance work and –

JOHN: D3 add-on, which if you’ve got large loads of data –

PARTICIPANT: Yeah. And we have one at NBC news, we’ve sort of open sourced, and we’re working with that as well.

JOHN: Awesome. Cool.

JOANNA: We’ve got nine minutes left. So mostly just wanted to wrap up and talk about how we bring all of these ideas forward. So the tip sheet is online. So feel free to—also on GitHub. So if you want to add things to it, we have a list of resource at the end, so if this organization has accessibility guidelines or blog post about it, feel free to add a poll request so that we can add to the tip sheet and also on the tip sheet, there’s a link to join the mailing list. Hopefully throughout the mailing list, we’ll be sharing solutions or ideas that we had on that that we’ve seen. And hopeful we’ll be able to get those solutions out.

JOHN: Yeah, the main part as well as on the tip sheet. We’ll try without stopping you as much as possible. So, yeah. And stuff develops on this. Really maybe initiative is that it would be great to hear this stuff developing and successful.

So cool. Yeah. Thanks for coming.