Posts

Making Word documents accessible

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Universal design is one of the phrases that stuck with me when I did a Masters module on accessibility in online learning. It struck a chord because I see in the physical day-to-day world, the problems that occur when something is designed or built and then access for wheelchairs is considered as an afterthought. That is when we (disabled people) become a frustration or an inconvenience. It is much easier to design and build something (a house, a shop, a piece of eLearning, even a Word document) that is accessible for all, if you think about access at the beginning. It would be transformational if everything that was ever designed was designed with all needs in mind.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear that a piece of eLearning isn't AT (assistive technology) compliant and as a mitigation for this, the content is put into a Word document. In many cases, nobody thinks that the Word document isn't compliant either. And yet, it's really not difficult to make …

Completion of a tough job

Just under a year ago, I took on a project that was expected to last about 3 months. It was supposed to be an easy win, where the SME already had most of the content and wanted to make quick progress. Today, I finished the build of this eLearning package. It still needs a couple of updates and to go through the review process, but the actual content and build is finally done!

So what have I learned from this quick win that took almost a year?
1. Ask more questions at the beginning. 

Before I begin any new projects, I want to be 100% sure that the client knows exactly what the project is about and can communicate that to me. Vague ideas aren't a good starting point. I want to know:

What is the subject?Who (specifically) is it aimed at? What do they want learners to learn?What behaviour changes do they want to see as a result?Why has this piece been commissioned right now?Is it connected to other projects?What has triggered this project? In short, before I go any further, I want to kn…

Edtech reflections on 2019

Wow! What a year 2019 has been! It's hard to believe that this time, last year, I was still working for the local adult learning service. I feel like I've been in my current role for much longer. This time, last year, I was desperately trying to learn Storyline 3, in preparation for starting my new job. Now, as I look back, I think I have learned so much more, both from a techie perspective and also as a designer.

Articulate 360 I have learned so much about this amazing suite, that I could probably fill a whole book! So what are the highlights? What have I learnt, that is more than I expected to learn? 
One of the most important things I have learned, is about compliance with assistive technologies. It's ironic that, as a Dragon user, I wasn't more aware of this before, but I tended to only use Dragon for speech-to-text. It was basically a dictation software for me, when writing assignments. I had also 'bumped into' JAWS, whilst studying for my Master's but…

Adobe Animate

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Finding inspiration When I started playing with Illustrator, a few weeks ago, I saw the kind of amazing art work that could be created, but wasn't inspired enough to produce something beautiful and colourful. Instead, like many designers, I found inspiration in something that already existed... existed in a form that I think lacked function.

I really don't like the icon/symbol that represents disability - the wheelchair icon. It's technically a black line icon but what I see is a grey NHS wheelchair with big rubber wheels and casters, that is terribly heavy. So that inspired me to create new disability icons, that represent a different view of disability. I wanted my icons to represent capability and activity in a wheelchair... for the wheelchair to be a positive symbol, rather than a symbol of pity.

And so, you may remember, I created this...


Connections Of course, even though the current wheelchair icon doesn't actually look like a real wheelchair, we see it as one, …

For anyone who's ever wondered what's inside a computer

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The inside of a computer is really interesting! It's like being able to open up a brain and see how it all connects together and how it links to the other organs in the body. You don't need to know it but it's interesting and sometimes rather handy to understand how it works (at a basic level, at least).

Motherboard

I love looking at the motherboard. It's full of little tiny parts, chips, places to plug things in, and bits that stick out through the case of the computer. Over time, they have changed a fair bit but they still do the same job.


When you look at the back of a computer, you can see lots of places where you can plug things in: USBs, printers, headphones, etc. Most of these are on the motherboard and connect to other parts inside.
Central processing unit (CPU)
This is sometimes just called the processor. It's now a tiny component but it has a very important job. It's what makes the whole thing work. Because it does such a big job, it could get quite hot…

The life cycle of a computer

If you own or have ever owned a desktop computer or a laptop, it's likely that you will be familiar with this life cycle. Let me illustrate it with some personal history...

1995 - Bought our first PC from Time Computers. It cost around £1000 and had about 4mb of storage (or something unreasonably small)

1998ish - Computers had moved on at such a pace that new software wasn't compatible and we were running out of storage. Decided to start again and buy a new computer, costing about £1200. Decided to go for the best spec we could afford, so that it would last longer than three years. Think it was a Tiny computer.

2000ish - How can computer technology move so fast?!! High spec Tiny is now virtually obsolete. Need to start again. Bought a Dell PC. Fortunately, prices are beginning to come down, so got a reasonable spec for £900. New PC also promises to be upgradable, so ending this cycle of buying a new one every three years.

2002ish - PC getting a bit sluggish and laptops are now pop…

Adobe Illustrator

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If you've been following my blog, you'll already know that I recently acquired Adobe Creative Cloud. I'll be honest, even the name 'Illustrator' turned me right off. I am notoriously bad at art. Many years ago, when I was a childminder, I would draw basic shapes - stick men, house, tree - and small children would screw their faces up, look utterly baffled and exclaim, "What is it?"

Illustrating is never going to be my forte! I'm not being negative. I just can't draw, or paint, or do many things that are arty farty.

What I can do, is use a computer and learn to use new software. So I decided to find out whether Illustrator could maybe bridge the gap for me... give me some artistic skills that are otherwise lacking. And I was pleasantly surprised!

The first surprise was that, for the first time in my life, I found myself enjoying art. My last art lesson (at age 13) was marked by the teacher, who may have been a trifle drunk (this was the 1980s) thro…