February 2, 2009

Do the white spaces have wheelchair ramps?

When I started this blog I built on the inspiration of Susan Fifer Canby and Karen Huffman of the National Geographic Society's Library and Information Services division who taught me that special librarians work "in the white spaces of the organizational chart." After a year in this position I have arrived at what I think the white spaces here need: wheelchair ramps. I mean this metaphorically, as the wheelchair has come to be known as the international symbol of accessibility. I have developed a special interest, in web accessibility, that seems to be enough within my organization's mission that I can spend work time on it, but enough outside the realm of my stated responsibilities that I consider it a move into the "white spaces" that Canby said are always in need of attention from special librarians.

Try not to get into anyone's way (at least not impolitely), but find out what your organization is doing. Do you have a designated web accessibility compliance officer? Is accessibility a priority for your organization? I hope to share resources and tips for how to approach this if the answer is no.

I have recently worked with two other staff members to try to put together a Web 2.0 working group. Our first tasks are drafting a disability/accessibility disclaimer for the wikis we work on, drafting an accessibility policy for wikis and other Web 2.0 initiatives here, and comparing different wiki platforms to evaluate them for inclusive design and universal access features.

The resources on the sidebars of this wiki represent the beginnings of this journey, and hope to hear from readers who have more ideas!

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