Because The Carpentries has a people-first and access-for-all mindset, one of the considerations that guides our choice of online platforms for community use in The Carpentries is the ease, clarity, and consistency with which people can interact and collaborate in real time (community calls, study groups, instructor training and workshop sessions, etc) and asynchronously (sharing opportunities, contributing to resources, asking questions etc).
In the past, for in-person workshops and activities across The Carpentries, we have offered guidelines on how to ask participants about their accessibility needs and worked to make our in-person gatherings accessible. Over the last year, as all our community activity shifted online, from our workshops, to our biennial community conference, it became apparent that we needed to do more to promote equitable access and make our online spaces more accessible. Carpentries Conversation 26 has valuable feedback that we are working on acting on and our Feedback Facilitators have been working to collate suggestions that community members have made over the years on the issue of accessibility in different Carpentries communications channels. They will share more about this in a future blog post.
Susan Goltsman describes inclusive design in this way: “It does not mean you are designing one thing for all people. It means you are designing a diversity of ways for people to participate in an experience, so that everyone has a sense of belonging.” We agree with this sentiment (one, two) and see it as a nudge to center accessibility in all considerations around tools, platforms, and pathways for community involvement and interaction.
We have work to do. On our Help Wanted page, you can see some of the web accessibility issues we have opened across our resources on GitHub based on your feedback and our findings. We value and welcome your contribution to these - either by providing more context against specific issues by way of comments or submitting Pull Requests to fix stated issues. Here are a few examples of issues and PRs on the subject of accessibility that have been submitted so far:
- expanding word contractions across our instructor training, handbook and website resources as using contractions makes content inaccessible for some;
- making links more descriptive across our resources so they are more accessible to people who use screen readers;
- improving how links are presented across our resources for better readability;
- appending alternative descriptions to images across our resources ++
We invite you to share any accessibility challenges you face in interacting with others or in using resources in The Carpentries, or suggest ways we can improve accessibility in The Carpentries. You can share by commenting under Carpentries Conversation 26 or opening issues on GitHub against any of our resources with a description of the challenge we should address. Should you prefer to email, you can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have ideas for ways The Carpentries can improve accessibility and want to audit them before sharing, here is one statement and one question that can guide you through the process:
“will this recommendation enable all community members to have an equivalent user experience, no matter how they choose to join in and immerse in community activities in The Carpentries?”
Guiding statement: ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’
December 3 2020 was the International Day for People Living with Disabilities(IDPW) and the statement above was the theme. We recommend finding resources from IDPW 2020 to gain a better understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, among others, and how to make our spaces more inclusive for all.