Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

3 Tips for Making Your Hyperlinks More Usable

Filed under: Accessibility 100,Blog Accessibility — by at 5:11 pm on Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How many times do you skim an online article or blog post, looking for interesting or relevant links? Individuals with sight impairments using screen readers (software that reads aloud text on the computer monitor) can have the software scan for hypertext links. However, oftentimes, the purpose of the hyperlink is difficult to determine. Similarly, individuals with other types of disabilities may face other obstacles while trying to use hyperlinks.

Web designers and bloggers can easily improve hyperlink usability by implementing the following three tips:

Tip #1: Make hypertext links informative when read out of context.

Imagine what individuals using screen readers would hear in the following example:

Examples of poorly written hypertext links, including "Click here"

In this example, the links “Christa Couture” and “Click here” are meaningless when read out of context. These individuals do not have any clue where the links will take them. The links should be rewritten to read “British Columbia singer/songwriter Christa Couture” and “View event details”.

Tip #2: Make hypertext links succinct.

Imagine how time consuming the next link would be to listen to, if you are scanning for only links:

Another poor hypertext link: an entire sentence is linked  

Making an entire sentence a link is unnecessary and is sloppy.

Tip #3: Separate adjacent links with non-linked, printable characters.

Imagine how confusing these two adjacent links would be if you had double vision or how difficult selecting the small links would be if you had a shaky hand:

An example of a poor hypertext link: two adjacent links with no separating character

In this example, rewrite:

“…running two Group Research projects…” (where each hyperlinked word points to a separate link)

to read

“…running the Internet Marketing Group Research Project and the Community Building Group Research Project…” (where the project names are hyperlinked and separated by the non-linked word “and”).

Other printable characters that can be used for separating adjacent links include punctuation, pipe bar |, brackets [ ], parenthesis ( ), and slash /.

Additional resources on hypertext links

(Re-examine the first two examples for a clue to next Wednesday’s web accessibility tip…)

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How Large Does Your Network Need to Be?

Filed under: Social Media,Work — by at 2:13 pm on Monday, February 9, 2009

Each day when I log into the application TweetDeck to connect with my Twitter community, I receive an automated message informing me how many people are now followers:

Message from TwetDeck Services at GlendaWH has 959 followers, added since yesterday 0, average growth per day 2, predictions: tomorrow 961, next month 1019

Similarly, the AWeber counter in the upper right corner of this blog indicate how many people receive my blog posts via email:

86 readers by AWeber

Watching my network and my reach grow is exciting and rewarding. Interacting with new people often results in blog post ideas or in new opportunities; for example, if we can figure out the technology, I will be presenting via video at San Antonio’s AccessCamp on Saturday, February 21st.

However, the larger my network becomes, more and more people are pulling at me and wanting a piece of me for various reasons. I try to respond to everyone, but, in doing so, I am torn away from my work and plans.

How do you manage and respond to your network so it isn’t cutting into your productive time? How do you determine how large of a network you really need? Where is the balance point?

Your suggestions and advice are most welcomed!

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7 Ways to Communicate When Speech Impaired

Filed under: Living with a disability — by at 1:36 pm on Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reader's Question

A young man with athetoid spastic cerebral palsy emailed me last week. He uses a Dynavox communication device and asked how I communicate, given my speech impairment, in hopes he may benefit from how I do it.

Glenda's Response

I am responding here in case how I communicate also benefits or triggers ideas for some of my other readers. I use a variety of communication methods; the method I use depends upon the situation.

Here are seven methods I use to communicate:

  1. Speak Glenda-ish: People who know me and strangers who take the time to actually listen do understand my unique dialect. Once individuals master Glenda-ish, I can talk their ears off for hours! In fact, only medical professionals have used the label non-verbal because they don’t take the time to try to understand me.
  2. A sample alphabet card Use an alphabet card: I have made several variations of this low-technology communication device over the years. During my university years, my alphabet card became my security blanket: I didn’t leave my apartment without it. 
  3. Type notes: For short messages like “I would like a book of stamps, please” or “I would like off at the bus stop near Laurel and Canada Way, please”, I type out a note before leaving home.  Post-It notes are great for this purpose. 
  4. Use Kate with PowerPoint: When giving a presentation, I convert the text into speech using TextAloud and NeoSpeech’s Kate voice. I then embed the sound files within my Microsoft Powerpoint presentation.  The process is time consuming, but it works!
  5. Use my laptop: When having a small group discussion with individuals not well-versed in Glenda-ish, I type my point on my laptop and then either have Kate read it aloud or have a fellow group member read it off the screen.
  6. Send email: Email has enabled me to communicate with people I would not have otherwise. Because email is asynchronous, my slow typing speed is not a factor. I can take the time needed to express my thoughts in the written word, my most effective means of communication, before hitting the send button.
  7. Skype with webcam: With individuals somewhat familiar with Glenda-ish, I call them using Skype and my webcam. Watching me while I speak helps their understanding. If they get stuck on a particular word, then I use the text chat feature to type the word.

    Being labeled non-verbal or speech impaired does not mean I’m non-communicative.  It means finding other ways to get my message across. 

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