Accessibility in the Digital Humanities

In doing the work of creating and utilizing digital tools for better digital humanities projects, shouldn’t we also be engaging the humanities themselves?

Moya Z. Bailey, “All the Digital Humanists Are White, All the Nerds Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave”, Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 1 No. 1, Winter 2011.

When reading this journal article the passage on accessibility in digital tools strongly stood out to me. In CS 252 Software Design we spend the entire first week learning about the importance of accessibility when designing software. However, in this article the author specifically mentions the site Codeacademy for not following accessibility best practices. Codeacademy is one of the foremost places to learn to code, but in 2011 the designers aren’t following something we as Carleton students learn in one of the CS major required courses. Funny enough, Codeacademy now has an entire piece of their site dedicated to accessibility here, but what about other tools I use in my daily life that others might not be able to. Is SketchUp a fully accessible app? I have no idea, but it’s a question I now know to ask when I am reminded to.

In regard to actually practicing digital humanities, I am excited to learn about the areas of the field where I can apply my knowledge of computer science to a cool project. One example that we learned about in Natural Language Processing is the AI Dungeon, a website where you build a Dungeons and Dragons type narrative working with an AI. Of course, we probably won’t end up making anything of that scale (it’s really hard to do) but knowing that coding skills CAN be applied is exciting. I also want to learn an entirely new skill – SketchUp was an interesting tool, so I am excited to see what other types of technology exist that I have no idea about.


One Comment

  1. This may be an odd question, but I guess this blog post makes me wonder: How would you define accessibility? In an ideal world, what would be something truly accessible? Does that mean all possible resources are available? Does that mean fully open-access? I think accessibility is wonderfully vague and can refer to both the consideration of disabilities, the freedom of access for knowledge, and various other things. It looks like Codeacademy’s piece is dedicated to hardware restrictions as well as accessibilities for handicapped (this is politically incorrect, I believe, but I cannot remember the correct term — apologies) individuals. Which definition(s) are you invoking here?

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