Saturday, March 19, 2016

More Hacking the Parks Department, accessibly

RantWoman is home from day one of #ATTHack. RantWoman notes the #ATTHAck rule about what counts is what happens during the hackathon and RantWoman offers two notes in that spirit.

--RantWoman means it about groups each trying only ONE small tiptoe into accessibility but RantWoman is going to rattle on about several ideas that illustrate different points and invite people to pick ONE idea to play with in-depth for this hackathon.

-- contains lots of entries having to do with technological accessibility and physical accessibility. RantWoman's blog tags are pretty idiosyncratic and the blog posts run heavy on narrative, but if someone does not have enough ideas from RantWoman's hackathon posts, browse the blog and then follow the rule about disclosing when you register the app that you read stuff composed before today.

Short appreciations:

RantWoman found the taco bar tasty and nutritious; RantWoman appreciates functional serving utensils! RantWoman was a little crabby about the room lighting but had much else ahead of that in queue to talk about.

RantWoman had plenty of time to chat up a couple Low-technology,  HackTheHack , talk to each other hacks, and to laugh hard a few times. Stay tuned for more details about #HackTheHack. See, if the goal is to get people outside and out enjoying Seattle parks and maybe tearing themselves away from their devices for awhile, should the hacks necessarily be electronic?

 Similarly, note RantWoman: RantWoman thought up a whole bunch of ideas as as soon as she went outside to ride the bus and breathe fresh air.RantWoman assumes that others also feel a pickup in their work capacity when they go out and utilize parks on a regular basis. But rantWoman gets ahead of herself.

RantWoman's initial pitch: There is lots of data and everyone can try something small that might make a big difference. RantWoman had FUN pitching her "just pick one thing to do with #a11y thought. RantWoman has a few more ideas to add:

 App Accessibility:
--RantWoman is the sort of power tester who wants to us an app on her devices with her preferred #a11y profile turned on and then to have the app work for someone else, say RantMom who uses no accessibility features or a completely different set. RantWoman does not necessarily expect one weekend to get things to a point where they work and definitely thinks reporting on whatever testing happens during development is also important process output even if everything breaks.

--RantWoman would give credit for testing an app on more than one device and having one device with some set of accessibility features turned on. RantWoman guarantees that an #a11y novice will not necessarily know whether problems are something with the app or something to do with their knowledge of the accessibility features. The Dev's can learn as they go, but a percentage of their users will also be in the same boat. They will have a new device. They might or might not have a lot of training. They might or might not have someone around for iterative learning by reinforcement. They might or might not be able to cope with not resolving the problem instantly. Welcome to user experience. This is also why sometimes calling the carrier's Accessibility helpline is extremely valuable.

    RantWoman can cite two examples in her immediate experience to illustrate:


    --Version 2.0 of a public transit iOS app was released recently. RantWoman had heard that Version 1.0 was very buggy and RantWoman had not even tried it on her Android device. One user posted a question to one of RantWoman's email lists. RantWoman knows the user is pretty savvy. The question just read like error message gobbledygook, not something that would be solvable by better use of accessibility features. RantWoman suggested just sending the exact message sent to the email list to the contact listed for the app. Sure enough, it was a problem with the app.


    --The exact user activity that was causing the problem: the user ran one query and they wanted to change the time or the date. Needing to change the input caused error messages when Voiceover is turned on but not for other users. This is the sort of commonly done activity that humans do all the time. RantWoman does not know a lot about automated testing, but suspects that automated testing would not necessarily include this activity.


   --RantWoman has a similar problem going on with her Android device. for some sites with input fields RantWoman can enter data just fine. RantWoman uses vibrate on touch, TalkBack, and turning her phone landscape to accommodate large fingers. Sometimes turning the phone landscape is enough to break the app. For others, every time rantWoman types a character, RantWoman gets sent to the address bar and has to triple tap to enlarge and then swipe around to go back to the input fields. RantWoman has had this problem on several sites but not all of them. RantWoman imagines that if she remembered which sites have the problem she herself might be able to track down the problem or she could certainly call her carrier's accessibility helpline.

    RantWoman means to do that but in the meantime, RantWoman either does not use the problem sites or uses them on Windows platforms, less instantaneous than her beloved Smartphone. Not like RantWoman has any shortage of things she can get done on her Smartphone, but sometimes needing the second platform crosses discretionary activities of rantWoman's always brimming to-do list.


Accessibility: data presentation.

   In her pitch,  RantWoman talked about grade on trails. Grade on trails or on walking / biking routes can be really valuable for choosing routes, but it can be a data presentation problem too. Someone like RantWoman might or might not see a color progression reflecting different parts of the route.  or the breakdown if the values were grouped by range; executing something to read the colors would help accessibility . RantWoman jokingly suggested that the ranges could be turned to a progression of musical pitches that could play as RantWoman moved her fingers across a slider. But thinking too hard about accessible data presentation might also be beyond the scope ofa Hacaathon.


Physical / social accessibility:

   Suppose RantWoman has a seeing eye dog and wants to walk in the park but does not want to ask her Seeing eye dog to deal with lots of dogs off-leash.  OR Suppose RantWoman wants a park to go to but is deathly allergic to cedar chips. Depending on whether RantWoman is by herself or travelling with someone who uses a cane or walker or stroller, RantWoman might strongly prefer concrete or asphalt to gravel or cedar chips for trail surfaces.

   In both cases, part of the hack is whether RantWoman herself goes out and looks for a way to launch a query or, say calls up a customer service bureau or a trusted staffperson at a community center who speaks RantWoman's native language and one of these people launches a query based on training to use some simple cleaned up lookup tables: RantWoman is definitely a hardy user and enough of a data nerd to think about hacking herself has been provided some simple clean lookup tables: tell me all the parks that DO NOT have off-leash dog areas. Or tell me all the parks within a radius of where I am now and tell me what surface their trails have.

   RantWoman could use her time at the Hackathon to try some of these lookups but there are technical difficulties with RantWoman’s laptop and with RantWoman’s knowledge of Chrome, the preferred browser. There is an ellipsis here: RantWoman realized that talking to a mentor might be a good idea but RantWoman has no idea who the mentors were when they were introduced and will hack accessibility about that by just asking at the reception area.

RantWoman basically did no prep for this hackathon until today so RantWoman is now offering contributions based on speeches by Seattle Parks Superintendent Jesus Aguirre and Since RantWoman did no prep, RantWoman only Friday took note that Seattle Parks and Rec is also looking for people who might be able to hack service delivery and communications strategies. At least that is what RantWoman made of the list of data sources and concerns mentioned in opening remarks. RantWoman imagines.


Use cases RantWoman is toying with:

City department wants to disseminate information about say change in services or new services. Target audience: low-income families. Perhaps city worker says Tell me all the parks where there are free lunches served in the summertime and then plans an outreach project that sends people to those parks iwht additional information.

Or city staffer wants to figure out whether it makes sense to try to deliver information electronically or whether a specific communications effort will be more effective if it just involves live humans who speak target languages out to different locations and then measure how effective the communications efforts by measuring results.

Anyway, RantWoman is getting ahead of herself but is posting as notes for a start.

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