Tuesday, March 22, 2016

SeeAddled Parks: Accessibility Honorable Mention at #ATTHack

#ATTHack: What the SeeAddledParks Team got done; see below for more details:

Yep, it's about accessibility AND the red yellow green has accessibility issues built in
Sample Map of Trail Steepness based on LIDAR data

The prep, such as it was including multiple references connections from RantWoman's faith community, multiple references to RantWoman specific, um, quirks. Consider also what RantWoman will call the search engine problem. In this case all the things that existin RantWoman's head as parks will not necessarily show up in data from the Seattle Parks and Recreation department. Not like the Hackathon necessarily has to address this, but maybe SOMEONE can find a reason to.

[For instance, in RantWoman's experience besides other cool sustainable Seattle touches, many of Seattle's P-patches are mostly level, full of greenery and paths that while mainly cedar chips are level and easy for some visitors to navigate.]

On the other hand, RantWoman herself is not always wild about input overload from unfiltered search engine output, especially via screen reader,  and RantMom is even more easily overwhelmed. Hold those points.

Opening Night: It was a dark and stormy night...

Uh, no, but the soft tacos got served and the pitches pitched.

RantWoman pitched "Do ONE THING no matter how tiny" about accessibility. RantWoman acknowledged that accessibility is a big hairy scary topic, but RantWoman specifically mentioned really easy things like saying whether the paths in a park are concrete, asphalt, gravel, cedar chips so that people with mobility issues who want to enjoy what they can at our parks can make sensible choices.

RantWoman also mentioned basically wanting to know whether trails are mostly flat and level, have modest inclines and declines or are so steep that mountain goats would get vertigo.  RantWoman mentioned this in the same sentence as markers of social connection such as going for walks with different combinations of people of differing ability, use of mobility devices and vigor levels.

Little did RantWoman know: RantWoman was in "I don't code; Make it So" mode and in the presence of able middle aged techies and eager youth. The middle-aged techies had to joke around for a bit about submitting a non-technological "app" called "Put The Screen Down and Look Behind You / Watch Where you are Going." And there were moments of lived experience that cannot be solved simply by writing more code.

But there was mention of "the trail map" and "the LIDAR map." Ask another member of Team SeeAddledParks for more techie detail about the geomatching, rasters, possibilities for adding text... RantWoman was asked to specify a rectangle: RantWoman specified a rectangle that includes a strip both N and S of where RantWoman lives and from Lake Washington to I5.

And RantWoman ran off for more live data events the next day. There was a #blind people  meeting in a restaurant with windows still plywooded from the #greenwoodExplosion and a presentation from Metro Service Planner Jack Wisener about upcoming #Bus2Link schedule changes.

There was a stop at the  #ULink2016 celebration, a very social walk around the U district station area.  RantWoman really wanted to find The Bicycle Petting Zoo and chat up folks about tandem partners for some #blind people who want to ride, but that did not happen.

RantWoman did see some cool bikes, including a tandem that definitely looked rugged enough should RantWoman herself find a tandem biking partner. This alone encourages RantWoman to continue in her quest. RantWoman is a little unclear whether the blind tandem biking public will be more interested in occasional group rides or more regular opportunities with individual partners. And then there are helmet issues and some other details that will need to be worked out...

While RantWoman was away from the #ATT Hack hackathon, she fielded a cellphone call from the
SeattleTrails team: BIG points for reading RantWoman's blog and then reaching out.

RantWoman's party rode the Link to Capital Hill and followed the crowd
anagement flow out of the station. By this time RantWoman's brain was
full from noise and clatter; the rest of the tour party went back to the U district and RantWoman took the bus downtown.

RantWoman came back, solved the get into the building problem, found the restroom and some water, charged her phone, cooled her heels until...

...RantWoman learned that she got signed up to present the SeeAddledParks team and RantWoman learned what cool things there were to present.

Ask the coding half of the team for lots of techie details
The first slice of map again
The trail map got matched up with the LIDAR map showing changes in elevation every 6 feet. Points got coded green, red, or yellow and the
map image got created.

[anyone recognize an accessibility issue with the red / yellow / green system? Test with high-contrast or reverse  video or consider a
character substitute for the pixel values.]

[RantWoman is also more than enough of a not-entirely trust the data sorehead and MIGHT take out the map and walk a segment or two just to validate the output.]

But the genius so far, at least as far as RantWoman is concerned: RantWoman can make the image large enough to use on her Smartphone or better yet on the tablet RantMom might get. [Ask RantWoman about her keep telecomm costs down point about the tablet too.]

Having the map on a device would work fine actually for RantWoman if everyone were standing still, but RantMom would probably not like carrying her canein one hand and trying to hold a tablet and do swipe patterns in the
other hand.

But here RantWoman came to more points of genius for the presentation.

Not everyone who comes to a park has a Smartphone.

Not everyone who comes to a park wants to search around for all the
trails in an adjacent rectangle. Some people will be very happy making
ONE map for an area and putting it on their device and carrying it
around and re-using it several times without need to run another

Other people might be very happy leaving their devices at home and
carrying around a p-p-paper map they can use several times. And maybe
the app could be deployed to libraries and community centers with
trained staff who could be asked to help about generating the maps.

It would be cool to experiment with the Vibrate on Touch feature and
see what could be learned about trails from that map. Or either 3-d
printing or tactile graphics approaches could be used on the trail /
LIDAR match to generate more permanent location specific maps.

In families where different generations have different levels of one
or more languages, the paper map could help a conversation happen at
home with someone sent out not completely on their own because they
have a map and can ask for help.

So sure, RantWoman would be happy to present!

Supper happened, wonderful Asian food and curry. Presentations got
presented and people milled around while the judges judged.

[RantWoman has seen the photos. RantWoman's hats are partly about
fighting glare but RantWoman WILL pay attention to looking at least a
little less disheveled!]

And the winners are...(RantWoman does not remember. Sigh.) Apps embodying the very accessibility ideas RantWoman mentioned, including Seattle Trails and the efforts of Team SeeAddled  Parks received special honorable mention including a photo op with Seattle Parks Superintendent Jesús Aguirre.

Team SeeAddled Parks with
Seattle Parks Superintendent
Jesús Aguirre

RantWoman heard a couple other groups mention accessibility but did not registerhow the groups interacted with the issue. RantWoman also notes that a good accessible app that makes it easier for all kinds of people to sign up for classes and reserve tennics courts, etc would definitely enhance access for everyone. But RantWoman is getting ahead of herself.

And hey, at least this "app" involves technology

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