SVG Bar Graph

A few days ago, I published a blog post about data accessibility. One of the things I wanted to do, following this, was to find out how data visualisations such as graphs and pie charts can be created so that they read well with a screen reader. This prompted a bit of a learning curve for me, which I'm going to share in this post.

Published: 8 August 2023

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Accessible Data

Data is something that I don't tend to consciously think much about but I don't think I have worked in any role where data wasn't really important.

As a teacher, I worked daily with data that focussed on children's progress and learning. We had numerous Excel spreadsheets that tracked progress each half term, what level each child had reached in each subject and whether they were making sufficient progress to be on track to achieve the expected levels in their Key Stage 2 SATs.

In adult learning, we had similar Excel spreadsheets for tracking courses, course numbers, finances and other performance targets. We also had dedicated database applications for storing customer information and personal data. It was while I was working there that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came in, and with it, a lot of conscious thought about how personal data is used and stored.

Now I'm thinking about data from an accessibility perspective. We have lots of data in Government and to help colleagues process it, we use several data visualisation tools. The more I think about data visualisation, the more concerned I become about accessibility.

Published: 4 August 2023

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Tremor Recommendations

I have Essential Tremor. It is one of the most common neurological movement disorders, being eight times more common than Parkinson's Disease. Approximately one million people in the UK have Essential Tremor. It can begin at any age. I've had it since I was about six years old, but it wasn't diagnosed until much later in adult life.

As a child, people assumed I was just very nervous. As I got older, I've had people assume that I'm drunk and that I lack confidence. My tremor has become progressively worse as I've got older and it now affects my co-ordination and balance.

There are many ways that my tremor affects daily life. Here are some daily life tasks that I find more difficult because of my tremor:

Published: 9 July 2023

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Does language matter?

The use of language is something I've been thinking a lot about recently. Sometimes those thoughts have been triggered by a brash encounter with clumsy language. Other times, it's been a thread on Twitter. Often, news articles trigger discussion around the use of language.

Language is emotive. It is constantly evolving. It is cultural. There are so many variants of English, and then all the dialects. Is it even possible to use language without saying the wrong thing and offending someone? Maybe not.

Published: 29 May 2023

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Business Trips

I've just read a thread on Twitter:

Reading it made me think back to my last business trip that involved an overnight stay. Completely by accident, I've now found a way that works better for me... a way that avoids all the stress-points... a way that should work. But even that isn't simple. I'll compare the two...

Published: 23 April 2023

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Creativity week

Sometimes, work can get so busy, it feels unmanageable! It can seem like everyone wants a piece of me, needs to talk to me, needs to run something by me. The tasks are mounting up but not getting done because every time I start something, I get interrupted. Can you relate?

Working for the Civil Service, one way I can manage this is by using flexible hours. I'm a morning person, so I start my day as soon as I wake up (which is pretty early) and I get a fair bit done before most people are even awake. That means that filling much of the rest of the day with meetings is less problematic.

The other thing I do, is I plan in regular creativity and inspiration weeks. I think we could all do this but my way probably wouldn't suit everyone. This post is about my creativity and inspiration week. I'm going away in my motorhome for the week. I'll base myself on a site that I know well, where the facilities are good, the wardens are helpful and there are many walks directly from the site. I will log into some meetings but mostly, I will focus my time on some pre-selected creative and inspirational projects.

Published: 18 March 2023

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We've just returned from a week's holiday in Cambridge. It was a really great week, with some fabulous days out. However, as always, we came under the assumptions assault. Some are subtle, some are in your face, some are just downright weird. Anyway, I'd like to share some of the assumptions we met this week.

Published: 26 February 2023

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I am blind

I've been looking forward to writing this post. I really enjoy working with screen readers and using them to test documents and websites. I also get great satisfaction when demonstrating using a screen reader, as it is often the light switch moment, where somebody suddenly understands why accessibility work is so important.

The first section of this post will look at the main screen readers that are in everyday use. There are others, but these are the ones that most people use on a computer, so we'll stick to these for now.

The second section is about creating documents and other content so that screen reader users can access it fully. One of the most common misunderstandings I encounter at work, is the idea that providing the same content in a Word document will automatically make it accessible. No! It won't! To make a Word document accessible, you have to make it accessible. The same goes for Excel and PowerPoint, and even emails.

Published: 4 February 2023

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I can't see very well

This is a huge topic! There are so many reasons why a person might not be able to see very well. What does it mean when somebody says this anyway? It can range from a person who has been temporarily dazzled by the sun and can't focus clearly at this moment, to someone who has a significant sight impairment and finds it difficult to see most things.

Like many things, sight loss is a vast spectrum. There are different causes of low vision but also different ways that people experience it. Some people have reduced vision in general. Others might lose their peripheral vision or experience blind spots. Colour is a whole area to consider. I could probably have written an entire post about colour.

It would be impossible to cover everything in this post, so I'm going to focus on some tools that users with low vision might find useful. Then I'll give some tips that content creators could follow to make it easier for users with low vision to access their content.

Published: 27 January 2023

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I find writing difficult

Some of the reasons why a person might find writing difficult overlap with reading difficulties. Many people with dyslexia find both reading and writing difficult. This can be because of difficulties with spelling and structuring their content.

Dysgraphia is a learning difficulty, which affects a person's ability to write. This is often about the actual process of handwriting - forming letters, spacing and the ability to write at speed. For some people with dysgraphia, learning to type can reduce some of the difficulties.

Published: 7 January 2023

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Blog title and link Publication date
Read full post - I find reading difficult 30 December 2022
Read full post - I can't use a mouse 26 December 2022
Read full post - Everyday Documents 17 November 2022
Read full post - Solo Motorhoming 20 October 2022
Read full post - Mountain trike hiking 6 November 2022
Read full post - Solo Motorhoming 20 October 2022
Read full post - Accessible Document Specialist 2 October 2022
Read full post - Forms 14 August 2022
Read full post - Road Trips 1 July 2022
Read full post - Summer Holidays 28 May 2022
Read full post - Toilets 7 May 2022
Read full post - What is accessibility? 19 April 2022
Read full post - Assumptions 2 April 2022
Read full post - Semantic structure and navigation 26 Feb 2022
Read full post - All Change 6 Feb 2022