Digitization for conservators (2017)

A guest lecture for the Preservation of Books, Photos and Archival Material’s course (SCIE0047) in Fleming College’s Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program, (session instructor Laura Cunningham) on June 16, 2017.

Download the slides for this lecture.

Suggested readings

Overview of the digitization process

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has published one of the best quick overviews of how to set up a digitization programme that I have seen.

Thinking about how to save your information and documents for the long term is a good way to start thinking about digital preservation in general. This next resource frames the problem and discusses it systematically and in clear language.

About images (less technical)

Copyright

  • Murray, L.J. and S.E. Trusow. Canadian copyright : a citizen’s guide (2nd ed.). Toronto : Between the Lines, c2013. 304 p. ISBN 9781771130134
    • Using examples, case studies and very accessible language, this book explains Canadian copyright law to ordinary Canadians and how Canadian copyright law and policy affects them.
    • The second edition is revised to include the recent changes to the Act and important Supreme Court decisions on user rights. Very easy to read. Includes specific cases (for example, libraries, archives and museums). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Digitization (general)

Digital preservation (a very complex topic)

Digitization standards

I include these so that you can see a sample of what they look like.

Metadata

Digitization for Conservators (2016)

A guest lecture for the Preservation of Books, Photos and Archival Material’s course (SCIE0047) in Fleming College’s Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program, (session instructor Laura Cunningham).

Download the slides for this lecture.

Suggested readings

Overview of the digitization process

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has published one of the best quick overviews of how to set up a digitization programme that I have seen.

Thinking about how to save your information and documents for the long term is a good way to start thinking about digital preservation in general.

About images (less technical)

Canadian copyright

  • Murray, L.J. and S.E. Trusow. Canadian copyright : a citizen’s guide (2nd ed.). Toronto : Between the Lines, c2013. 304 p. ISBN 9781771130134
  • Using examples, case studies and very accessible language, this book explains Canadian copyright law to ordinary Canadians and how Canadian copyright law and policy affects them. The second edition is revised to include the recent changes to the Act and important Supreme Court decisions on user rights. Very easy to read. Includes specific cases (for example, libraries, archives and museums). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Digitization (general)

Digital preservation (a very complex topic)

Digitization standards (so you can see a sample of what they look like)

Metadata

Using MS Word 2013’s accessibility features

Microsoft  Word has two very useful accessibility features:

  • Speak allows users to hear the document
  • Accessibility Checker runs various tests on your document and tells you what to look at or to fix

Both of these can be added to your Quick Access toolbar (which usually appears at the very top of your screen). Standard buttons for the toolbar are Save, Redo, and Repeat, but you can add any command you use frequently.

Adding Speak and Accessibility Checker to the Quick Access toolbar

  1. From any screen in Word, select File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar
    The Quick Access Toolbar screen appears.
  2. From the “Choose commands from” drop-down menu, select All Commands.
  3. From the alphabetic list immediately beneath that menu, select Accessibility Checker and click the Add button.
    The Accessibility Checker icon moves to the list on the right.
  4. From the same list, select Speak and click the Add button.
    The Speak icon moves to the list on the right.
  5. Make sure “For all documents” is selected and click OK.
    Your document reappears, and the two new icons appear in the Quick Access toolbar.

A shortcut to modify this menu is to click the little drop-down menu icon on the far right of the existing icons of the Quick Access toolbar.

Using Speak

To use Speak in a Word document, select the text you want to hear or use Ctrl+A to select all the text in the document. This is useful because it will give you some idea of how a person living with a visual impairment interacts with your document using screen-reader technology.

Try it now

Open a Word document you are working on, select all (ctrl+A) and click the Speak icon in your Quick Access toolbar. Listen for things like how it reads tables, floating images and text boxes, hypertext links. Close your eyes and imagine that this is the only way you have to understand the document you have written.

What do you need to change? Are large tables intelligible? What about tables with a lot of information in them (possibly separated by hard returns), or those with several layers of titles indicated by coloured bars and merged cells? What about the semantic information you used colours to convey (red is late, green is done, yellow is in progress, for example). What do watermarks do?

Note: If you are used to screen-reader technology, you will find this a very poor imitation. There is no pitch variant for capitals, punctuation is neither taken into account nor voiced, and links are not announced. However, the text is read aloud which is, in many cases, better than nothing.

Using Accessibility Checker

Now, using the same document, click Accessibility Checker.
The Accessibility Checker window appears at the right-hand side of the screen.

It will highlight things that cause problems for screen-readers:

  • Missing Alt text (screen-readers read the alternative text, since a visually impaired reader cannot see the images, charts or graphs you put into your document for your sighted readers)
  • Tables and images with no title
  • Tables with no header row specified, or those with blank, merged or split cells
  • Missing or unclear hypertext descriptions
  • Extra blank characters
  • Not enough headers (they are extremely useful when navigating using assistive technology)

Correcting the errors is a matter of working through them one at a time. Doing so highlights the changes in your creation process that you can make so that all people can read your documents.

It does not pick up everything, of course.

  • If you used colours or other visual flags to convey meaning (red=late), this will be invisible to your visually-impaired audience. Watermarks can make the whole document inaccessible.
  • Use Title Style Capitalisation (Every Word, like Winnie-the-Pooh) or use Sentence-style capitalisation (first word only), but AVOID ALL-CAPS. If you use ALL CAPS as a header style, people with dyslexia or cognitive impairments affecting reading will find it extremely difficult to read. Keep headers short.
  • If your Alt text is present but of poor quality, it will be meaningless. For example, try to summarise in words what the chart or graph shows, provide enough information to your reader so that they can “get” why you put in the picture, etc.
  • If you did not use high-contrast colours, your document may not be usable by those who use screen magnification software instead of a screen reader.
  • If your paragraphs are too long, or use passive voice and recursive structures, people will become confused. This is true of your sighted readers, as well. Follow clear writing rules.

Exporting your document to PDF

Now that you have made an accessible Word document, you might want to export it to a PDF.

Depending on how you export it, you could undo all the hard work that you put into your document and have an inaccessible PDF at the end of it all.

While it is tempting to select File > Options and press the big, friendly Create PDF/XPF Document button, don’t do it! Sadly, you need to take a more circuitous route to publish in an accessible format.

How to export to an accessible PDF

When following these instructions, do not press Enter .

  1. Select File>Save As and select a location for your new PDF.
    The Save As window appears.
  2. From the Save As Type drop-down (ctrl+T), select PDF.
    Hint: If you type the letter P it will select the first item in the list that starts with P, in this case PDF.
  3. Click the Options button.
    The Options window appears.
  4. Make sure that the Document structure tags for accessibility box is checked and click the OK button.
    This is what keeps your changes and makes the PDF accessible. Hint: the letter M toggles this box checked/unchecked. The Options window reappears.
  5. Click Save.

I hope that in a future update, Microsoft will implement accessibility by default. Until then, there are hoops to jump through.

My next post will show you how to adjust the text itself to increase its legibility for people with low vision.

Digitization for conservators (2015)

 

A guest lecture for the Preservation of Books, Photos and Archival Material’s course ( SCIE0047) in Fleming College’s Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program.

Download the slides for this lecture.

Suggested readings

About images (less technical)

Copyright

  • Murray, L.J. and S.E. Trusow. Canadian copyright : a citizen’s guide (2nd ed.). Toronto : Between the Lines, c2013. 304 p. ISBN 9781771130134
  • Using examples, case studies and very accessible language, this book explains Canadian copyright law to ordinary Canadians and how Canadian copyright law and policy affects them. The second edition is revised to include the recent changes to the Act and important Supreme Court decisions on user rights. Very easy to read. Includes specific cases (for example, libraries, archives and museums). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Digitization (general)

Digital preservation (a very complex topic)

Digitization standards (so you can see a sample of what they look like)

Metadata

Digitisation for Conservators (2014)

A guest lecture for the Preservation of Books, Photos and Archival Material’s course ( SCIE0047) in Fleming College’s Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management program.

Download the slides for this lecture.

Suggested readings

About images (less technical)

Copyright

  • Murray, L.J. and S.E. Trusow. Canadian copyright : a citizen’s guide (2nd ed.). Toronto : Between the Lines, c2013. 304 p. ISBN 9781771130134
  • Using examples, case studies and very accessible language, this book explains Canadian copyright law to ordinary Canadians and how Canadian copyright law and policy affects them. The second edition is revised to include the recent changes to the Act and important Supreme Court decisions on user rights. Very easy to read. Includes specific cases (for example, libraries, archives and museums). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Digitization (general)

Digital preservation (a very complex topic)

Digitization standards (so you can see a sample of what they look like)

Metadata

Closure of the Consumer Health Information Service

I did not write the post that follows, however it was a sad day for all of us and I want to ensure that this post survives.

The Consumer Health Information Service at the Toronto Public Library provided invaluable assistance to Ontarians across the province, in both official languages, helping them to find reliable health information that they could understand.

CHIS began in a very much pre-Internet era, a testament to good, old-fashioned librarianship and dedication to service. Susan Murray, the heart of consumer health information at TPL and in Canada in general, was the driving force behind a comprehensive and proactive information service that it was a privilege to be part of. Susan’s mission was and remains the provision of health information people can understand, exactly when and where they need it. To fulfill that mission, Susan literally moved mountains. Continue reading

Locating reliable health information on the Internet

Can you trust Internet health information?

More and more, people are using the Internet to find information on all topics, including health information. A recent article  by the PEW Internet & American Life Project estimates that 75-80% of Internet users have searched for health information online, and that most reported high levels of satisfaction with the information they found.

That said, not all sites on the Internet provide reliable health information. And, as Mark Twain famously said: “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint”.

Libraries can help you locate reliable health information on the Internet, by providing classes, electronic resources or by answering your questions in person or online. There are also a number of sites you can check to see if that alarming e-mail you just read is a hoax or fraud.

Continue reading

Colorectal cancer: Cancer of the colon or rectum

March is colorectal cancer awareness month.

What is colorectal cancer?Support-colorectal-cancer_mod
Colorectal or colon cancer, which affects the last six feet of the small intestines and rectum, is one of the most common type of cancer in Canada.

Overall, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer (men and women combined). On average, 413 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer every week, and 171 Canadians will die of it. (source)

Continue reading