visual representation matters

Recently I read an article on CBC about a project by Nicole Hill from Six Nations of the Grand River to create modern stock photos of Indigenous people because they couldn’t find representations of people like them to promote development projects.

There’s been a bunch of awesome photo projects where people have created their own visual representations of their communities.

Women of Color in Tech (CC-BY licensed)

Black woman with natural hair looks down at her tablet
https://flic.kr/p/Fv3zVg

“Our ask? That you use these photos to show a different representation of all women in tech. That you use these images in pieces about entrepreneurs, software engineers, infosec professionals, IT analysts, marketers, and other people who make up the tech ecosystem. Just as white women have been the default “woman” in technology and American society as a whole, we believe the underlying belief of what it means to be — and who can be —  a tech worker in the 21st century can benefit from this form of “disruption”. link

Disabled and Here (CC-BY)

Close-up of a Filipinx woman with a filtering face mask, sitting at a table with notebook and pen. She has colorful flower earrings and headphones on while looking into the distance.
https://affecttheverb.com/gallery/disabledandhere/filtermasknotebook/

“Disabled And Here is a reclaiming of our depiction, featuring disabled BIPOC with different diagnoses (or lack thereof), body sizes/types, sexual orientations, and gender identities who reside in the Pacific Northwest. This is disability representation from our own community.”

I love that these also have alt text descriptions too.

Allgo’s plus size stock photo collection

Black plus sized woman is washing a red pepper while smiling at her male partner
https://www.canweallgo.com/plus-size-stock-photos-home

“These photos are available for all uses and feature plus-size people at home. From looking at their phones in bed to having a glass of wine with friends, this collection is powerful because the emphasis is on what the models are doing, not how big they are while they’re doing it.”

The Gender Spectrum Collection

A transgender woman in business attire smiling in an office.
https://broadlygenderphotos.vice.com/#Work

“The Gender Spectrum Collection is a stock photo library featuring images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés. This collection aims to help media better represent members of these communities as people not necessarily defined by their gender identities—people with careers, relationships, talents, passions, and home lives.”

Ally is a verb, not a noun

Jeremy Dutcher‘s music is so beautiful and powerful. The way he talks about hearing his ancestors singing and laughing on archival recordings moves me in a deep way that I have a difficult time explaining with words.

His Juno acceptance speech for best Indigenous Music Album was badass: he thanked his family and team, he asked the other nominees to stand up and praised their work for creating space and defying a single genre, then he called out the Canadian Prime Minister for supporting pipelines, for sending in militarized police forces into unceeded territory and for the boil water advisory that exists in many First Nations communities. He was interrupted by the music playing him off.

Later the Arkells, who won the Rock Album of the Year, said a quick thank you and stepped back and invited Jeremy Dutcher to finish what he was saying. Before yesterday it was outside my imagination that a rock band would step back and give a two spirit Indigenous opera singer space their time and space on the stage.

I think of allyship as a verb, not as a noun, and this was a beautiful example of this. All of this is such an inspiration for me to speak truth to power, to use some of my time to hold up my colleagues’ work on the stage, and to think about where i can step back and literally create time and space for others.

blah, blah, blah: diversity and inclusion, the code4lib edition

Being asked to keynote code4lib was a literal dream come true for me. I shared some of the diversity and inclusion work we’re doing at Mozilla, called out whiteness and racism in libraries and shared some personal stuff.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve cried while giving a talk, but this was the first time the tears weren’t about trauma. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of what is possible when you are loved and supported by friends and community. I had some of my dearest library friends sitting in the front row holding space for me.

In my 20s and 30s my work was often fueled by anger and I was all about burning systems down. Now that I’m in my 40s I’m exploring what it means to be fueled by love and interdependence. I’m exploring what it means to have privilege and responsibility, and the type of work it takes to build the systems that are liberatory. It’s a new kind of vulnerability that is terrifying, yet incredibly freeing.

Here’s my original deck. I deviated a bit from the slides a bit in the actual talk.

Continue reading blah, blah, blah: diversity and inclusion, the code4lib edition

blah blah blah: diversity and inclusion

It was such an honour to be invited to speak at National Digital Forum in Wellington. This was the biggest talk I’ve ever done and it’s the first talk I’ve done on the diversity and inclusion. I surprised myself by how emotional I got at the end and it couldn’t have been a safer place to share my ideas and my feelings.

Continue reading blah blah blah: diversity and inclusion

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Open Research and Education

It was such an honor to be invited to speak on a panel at OpenCon with Denisse Albornoz, Thomas Mboa, and Siko Bouterse. Lorraine Chuen did an amazing job putting the panel together and moderating.

Lorraine’s questions were:

  • How do the solutions put forth by the Open movements reinforce Western dominance, colonialism, as well as barriers on the basis of race, class, gender, ability, etc…?
  • How does exclusion and a lack of diversity impact their own Open advocacy work in their communities and/or institutions?
  • How might they begin to address this in their own communities?

Continue reading Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Open Research and Education

new job on Mozilla’s Diversity and Inclusion team

October 16th will be my first day in my new career at Mozilla on the Diversity and Inclusion team. I’ve been telling people I’m going to be a feminist data driven storyteller, but the scope of the job is a little bigger than that. I’m really excited to learn more about the connections between diversity, inclusion and innovation. I’m also excited to figure out how to operationalize research on diversity and inclusion and support culture change. Until very recently I couldn’t have imagined a career in HR, but the People Team at Mozilla is not your typical HR group:

At Mozilla, we need a certain, special kind of “HR”. We are an organism more than an organization. We are bumpy, and rough, and strong, and unique. We’re powerful, and generous, and open, and brave. We respect iteration, failure, choice, and inclusion and care little for convention, rigidity, or compliance. We are wicked smart and imperfect. And we are all of these words and many more.

An experiment in open

Through the recruitment process I experimented with being really open with my Facebook friends about all my excitement, questions, insecurities and fears. I’ve curated my Facebook friend-list to be people I know, like and trust. My friends are generous and helped by encouraging, cheerleading, helping me beat back impostor syndrome, sending me research articles and tips for data analysis and storytelling, offering me feedback on my written work and presentation deck, and coaching me through explicitly connecting the dots from my library experience to this job. People also introduced me to friends who are current or past Mozillians who also agreed to chat with me. There were a few really delightful serendipitous connections. I know lots of smart, helpful and generous people in various industries and it was so awesome to have all kinds of support through this process. It was awesome having friends cheer me on as I made it through to the next round and have them reflect back all the positive things they see in me when I was having self doubts. This experiment turned out really well.

It was a bit scary leaving the stability of academic libraries, but I’m so excited about the challenges, adventure and positive change that are possible with this new job.

UBC’s Open Dialogues Series: How to make open content accessible

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of chatting with the folks from the Centre for Teaching and Learning at UBC about accessibility, universal design for learning and inclusion. I’m really happy with how this video turned out. I love that captioning is now part of their production workflow, and not an afterthought. Yay born accessible content!

I’m also thrilled that the Accessibility Toolkit I co-wrote with Sue Doner and Amanda Coolidge has been remixed by UBC  for their guide on creating accessible resources.

digital or “inclusive” doesn’t always mean accessible

blue wooden door with a big rusted old fashioned lock

Just how inclusive are “inclusive access” e-textbook programs? points out the problems with mandatory course fees for all students to lease access to online textbooks. This so-called “inclusive access” model has been piloted at Algonquin College with the e-textbook platform provider Texidium.

Too often we conflate digital with being accessible. Here’s my thoughts on accessibility of e-textbooks for students with print disabilities. I left this as a comment on Rajiv’s post.

When talking about inclusion and accessibility we can’t forget about students with print disabilities. I’ve seen two major accessibility problems with proprietary “inclusive access” models like Texidium.

First, sometimes the platform isn’t accessible. This is more problematic than a print textbook as there’s workflows for format shifting print content for students with print disabilities. What does an accessible format look like for an online “book” that’s on an inaccessible platform? A whole new accessible website? Also there’s really no excuse for publishers who are building inaccessible web platforms in 2017.

Second, sometimes the content isn’t fully accessible. Many of the online publisher textbooks I’ve seen don’t have image descriptions, have math content that’s not in MathML (and therefore cannot be read by a screenreader), or have videos that lack captions. Again, there’s really no excuse for publishers producing content on the web that is not accessible.

A couple of years ago I used to think that publishers might not be aware of accessibility, but now I believe that they don’t care . I believe they don’t care because it cuts into their profits and they are not responsible for the cost of remediating inaccessible platforms and inaccessible content to provide full access to students with print disabilities.

When we talk about accessibility and open textbooks we usually mean financial accessibility, which is important. It’s also important that we make choices that don’t disable students in our classrooms.

Practical considerations

If your college or university is going down this path it is critical to put in clear language around accessibility (like WCAG 2.0 compliant) in the procurement documents and in the contracts with vendors. Benetech has some great resources creating or purchasing content that is born accessible. Their checklist on what to look for in e-books is particularly useful.

It’s also important to include clear information about what the publisher will do if the content is not accessible. Who is responsible for the costs of making this content accessible? If the Disability Service Office, or a service provider like CAPER-BC, needs to do work to make the content accessible who do they contact for the publisher files? What is the turnaround time for this?

Moving to e-textbooks is not necessarily an improvement for students with print disabilities. Digital or “inclusive” doesn’t always mean accessible.

How to organize an inclusive and accessible conference

I was asked by Brady Yano to offer feedback on the awesome OpenCon Diversity, Equity and Inclusion report that will be publishing as a PDF document in the second week of July.

I love that OpenCon is making their values explicit and transparent and connecting them to how they do their work:

Central to advancing Open Access, Open Data, and Open Education is the belief that information should be shared in an equitable and accessible way. It is important to us that OpenCon reflects these values—equity, accessibility, and inclusion—both in our communities and in the design of our conference. We recognize that although the Open movements are global in nature, privileged voices are typically prioritized in conferences while marginalized ones are excluded from the conversation. To avoid creating an environment that replicates power structures that exist in society, OpenCon does its best to design a meeting that (1) is accessible and inclusive, (2) meaningfully engages diverse perspectives, and (3) centers conversations around equity.

I also love that they’re being transparent about their process and self assessment publicly. I’d love to see more organizations do this.

In preparing feedback on this document I found myself referencing other documents that I’ve found useful. April Hathcock recently seeded a list of women who work in “open” and put it out for the wider community to add to.

Inspired by April’s approach I’ve put some resources for event organizers on inclusion and accessibility together in a Google Doc. This is open for editing, so please add other resources, beef up the annotations or organize the content in a more useful way.