Accessibility of Information

Content. Form. Visual pleasantness. Design. Accessibility.

Readable? Understandable?

I love those moments when a reading for a class completely matches the assignment we’re working on in a class is one of the most satisfying in-class situations. At least, I feel like I have some clue into why we read it right before our advocacy campaign where we are supposed to both communicate information and make someone give a damn about what we’re trying to get them to give a damn about.

Social justice.

A term Jones and Wheeler refer to when they say: “considering document design from a social justice perspective (concern for how society privileges some and marginalizes others) requires thinking about the practicality and application of design in a different conceptual way” (5). I think one of the most important parts of this is connecting social justice to societal privileges, which connects with the idea brought up at the beginning of Jones and Wheeler’s piece talking about the the universal document design (UDD) being something important to keep information accessible to a “general” or “popular” audience.

I would love to talk about things more in depth, but it’s right before class and I don’t have time for that!

Katie stated: “Given that example is fairly old and perhaps the authors are trying to address the disabled audience of modern times since the rise of social justice warriors’ means for fighting against these unequal playing fields.”

I don’t know if “disabled” is a “correct” way of communicating what I think is being said. I think that instead matching the language of the post and speaking more strictly to the marginalized or less privileged might be more fitting. More understandable documents mean a broader audience availability and a more inclusive reading platform. But that’s just one “social justice warrior” opinion.

I think that thinking of people wanting to get the information and ti being more clearly understandable so people can get that information off of it.

We aren’t looking for an all encompassing “matches all audiences” because that’s impossible. Overall, we’re actually just trying to get the widest audience who will understand the most they can.

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You down with UDD?

To start, I think the ideas that are discussed in this text are really interesting and something that each writer-designer needs to consider: the audience. For instance, take a piece of software like Scrivener. It’s great in terms of what it allows you to do when it comes to writing a novel or an anthology because it allows you to save things and move them around in different orders etc. If I’m understanding the terms correctly, Scrivener has a great usability. It has many different features that allows you to access a document in multiple ways. However, figuring out how to use Scrivener, to even begin to unlock said features, is one big giant fucking headache. I’m pretty sure one day I spent like 8 hours trying to figure out how to unlock those magical abilities that would allow me to cleverly store all my character info, setting info, sub-plots, and the actual manuscript all in one nice complete package. Still couldn’t fully figure it out. It’s nice because you get to enjoy little treats here and there when you figure something new out, but the problem is, the accessibility is shit. Or is it the other way around? The terms confuse me a little bit, but that brings me to my next point (my featured image)…like what Katie said in her post, I don’t think Jones and Wheeler necessarily followed their own advice when it comes to the document they produced here.

I think if you were going to prove your point, you could go meta and apply what you are discussing in the text you are discussing it in. I think in terms of the parameters they established, they don’t make this document very accessible with how it is laid out. For a document that discusses the importance of considering one’s audience, I, as an audience member, think the design of the document and the order they discussed things in, was not the most effective way of establishing their point. I think they raise a good point. Like Ram, I think their example wasn’t the best in terms of proving their point.

One thing I do think that might have been a good example to use is in terms of user agreements. For instance, have you ever joined a free trial for something and had an absolute nightmare trying to find the actual place where you cancel said trial? Would this fall into what they are discussing? They mentioned web design earlier, but that isn’t necessarily what they were getting at with discussing UDD, but because they mentioned it I kept imagining examples within web texts where the accessibility and usability was something that needed to be addressed. Like with free trials where they take you down the rabbit hole in an attempt to make you give up and pay for the service (I’m looking at you Amazon Audible!)

I think I’ll be able to understand this one more after discussing it in class, but I think the execution of their argument could have been done better. Perhaps that is my own fault for not ‘getting it’ in terms of why they designed this text in the way that they did, but it is at the very least a little ironic. I think the actual model they outlined seems to be a good way of establishing a way of considering audience, but like Ram pointed out, it will be hard for one single document to check each and every mark. The measurements are subject in many ways too, so while it’s a good model, I’d love to see more examples of texts they believe check each box. I think I’d then be able to better see how the UDD works.

Understanding What the Argument is Lacking

Katie Kelly

This article itself could have been better designed using its own principles. Ram’s blog post I feel has the best summary of what one could take away from this article and it align with what the authors were trying to convey. Ram’s criticism of addressing limited audience consideration in a set of principles via an article about issues with limited audience consideration is also completely valid. While I’m assuming these principles are meant to be applied to informational documents that may be used by multiple parties from diverse backgrounds, since the article fails to make that explicit it leaves lots of holes for us to poke our heads through.

The article should have started out with the ending example, pointing out the issues with a document and how it may or may not be usable/accessible/universal. By starting off with theory about applicable documents, I fail to see how applicable the principles are until after the example. Considering the only way these principles are applicable are functional/usable documents such as the landlord/tenant example, I call into question other historical pieces of text that were influential and violated most of these principles.

A Modest Proposal was a satirical letter by Jonathan Swift and violated most of the principles described for universal documents. Besides this being in an era where most people didn’t know how to read it can be assumed the targeted audience is higher society that isn’t experiencing all the issues of famine and over population. But since it is satirical, the entire letter take a great deal of effort and could be interpreted as completely crazy proposal rather than understanding the commentary of the dire situation.

Given that example is fairly old and perhaps the authors are trying to address the disabled audience of modern times since the rise of social justice warriors’ means for fighting against these unequal playing fields. Would never know because the method in which the authors describe the principles, any and every document puts some audience at a disadvantage, even if the document was not meant for that audience. New paper’s are written at a 6th grade reading level, but is an audience disadvantaged by the paper because they cannot afford a copy the same way the authors described a disadvantaged audience who does not have the same version of Microsoft Word? What about audiences who cannot read altogether? These principles are too broad and in attempt to erase boundaries between rhetoric and disabled audience, failed to put their own boundaries on how applicable the principles are. As a college student who is supposed to analyze and comment on articles to show I read and understood them, this article makes me a disadvantaged audience by spending more time asking why the authors didn’t follow their own principles when designing their document.

A Diversified and Unbiased Document-Design

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Jones and Wheeler in their article “Document Design and Social Justice: A Universal Design for Documents”, postulated an alternate way of document design that overcomes drawbacks of usability framework and accessibility framework and provides room for inclusivity, diversity, and equality. The universal design for document (UDD) uses perspective of social justice, so writer-designers can think of end users in a way to prevent a document being disempower and marginalize. UDD requires that writer-designers should not bound to a set of rules to increase its accessibility, instead should try to use different strategies to reach as many audiences as possible.

This article reminds me about design of a question paper in a typical exam. Diversity is important in designing a set of questions for a screening or eligibility test. The questions should be for all candidates; it should target candidates of all background to avoid skewness. For example, a question paper of a general math exam should include question from different topics such as arithmetic, analysis, algebra, geometry etc. Since some students are comfortable in multiple choice questions, some are in short answer questions or others are in essay type questions, an ideal question paper should include all types of question to give an equal opportunity of ease and difficulty to everyone. Similarly, in terms of accessibility, a typical academic exam should be divided in different formats such as homework assignment, class discussion, in-class exam or take home exam etc. However, these arguments are not always viable.

Authors in their article, cited seven principles that help in forming a UDD. I find the principles of universal design limited in terms of audience. A single document cannot meet all principles listed by authors. If audience are not equal, how a universal document will work well for all. The example, ‘guidelines of Baltimore city rent court’, authors used for their argument is not universal and the figures they used are intended for landlord. The figure are not representing a handbook of laws of renting house. These are the steps should be taken by a landlord when tenant fails to pay timely rent. So, their claim that it contains less about tenant’s rights, seems false, because, I assume, tenants get different guidelines when they occupy the house and those guidelines includes more about tenants right and less about landlord.

Another flaw authors made about ‘guidelines of Baltimore city rent court’ is lack of accessibility of this document. This is in contrast to what I leaned in previous reading “Composing for Recomposition: Rhetorical Velocity and Delivery”. In previous reading authors proposed that while designing a document it should keep in mind that how a documents can be recomposed by third party in the digital space. And, it is logical in ‘guidelines of Baltimore city rent court’ situation to keep the document less accessible, since it is government and not applicable to everyone. If this document made fully accessible then it can be recomposed or distorted important message by third party, and that is enough to misguide tenants in digital space.