It's Diablogical!
A Collaborative Diablog on Feminist Pedagogy
Accessibility, Visibility and Font type?
Categories: Week 2: July 16

Hey KCF–Notice anything different about the blog today? Last night STA made a few tweaks on the site. One of the first things he did was change the font from Arial to Helvetica. What’s the big deal, you might ask? In case you didn’t know, Arial vs. Helvetica is a huge deal among design-geeks. STA is particularly invested in the Helvetica side.

Have you seen the documentary Helvetica? Pretty awesome. Here’s a clip. Starting at 8 minutes and 8 seconds in, Leslie Savon suggests that Helvetica enables companies/governments who use it to seem more “accessible, transparent and accountable.” What do you think of her commentary on the politics of the font and its connections to accessibility?

As we reflect on accessibility, especially in the contexts of websites/blogs, I think it is important to spend a little bit of time thinking about blog visibility in relation to usability. Here’s one description of web accessbility that might be helpful for us. In our abstract, we wrote:

We envision this complication as not counter to but in connection with critical discussions of web accessibility as usability for a wide range of readers/writers.

Maybe we need to diablogue some more about what I meant here (I think I added this above line right before we submitted our abstract).

So here are some random questions related to the idea of visibility and the blog as a particular type of visual medium:

  • What do you think about our blog design?
  • How important is design (font choice/layout) to a course blog?
  • How does the look of a blog influence its accessibility? How does that differ depending on the reader and their abilities?
  • How can we (should we even try?) to mimic the visual layout of our diablog in our academic book article?

Wow, I feel like this post is a little random and disjointed. Oh well. Returning to the idea of accessibility and visibility, I think that blogs enable us to organize information (visually and through categories or pages–like these two that I just posted today) in ways that make it more accessible for students/readers. For example, by creating a page entitled, “What is a diablog,” I am providing clear (at least I hope it is clear) and easy-to-access (it’s always at the top of the diablog) information about our project. Immediately, the reader can get a sense of what we are trying to do in this diablog.

I found making information about the blog easily accessible to be very helpful in one of my class blogs. I created pages at the top of the left-hand side about this blog, Due Dates, How to Blog, a primer, The blog as a public site.  At any time (of the day/night) during the semester, students could click on this information; they didn’t have to dig through tons of posts (online) or handouts (offline). So, bottom line: the visual layout and how you categorize/organize/present information on a blog is very important and has the potential to transform how and when students engage with the blog, the class, and the ideas that we are trying to get them to think about.

Okay, that’s enough for now. No, wait. One more thing, in the spirit of making our writing and thinking process visible to each other and to our readers. When I started writing this entry, I planned to list off a few changes that I (and our web/design guru, STA) had done to the blog recently (maybe you should try to guess them?). But once I started writing about the font type, the entry went in a different direction. I love that about blog writing; you never know when you start where you will end up.

1 Comment to “Accessibility, Visibility and Font type?”

  1. KCF says:

    That’s awesome! I love it! For some reason, I misread a tweet from STA a while ago thinking that he hated Helvetica for some reason, but I must admit that I think it’s so much more readable! Remember the other day when I had to dig out my glasses to read the blog because the font was so small? Now it is so much easier to read! Helvetica is totally in my Netflix queue and I’m going to have to move it up. I am loving the pages at the top of the screen too! It looks awesome!

    As for some of your questions you pose here, I think they are totally relevant and pertinent to our discussions. One part of our other discussion last week was on this notion of a “fear” of technology – blogging specifically – that it isn’t in fact accessible for some people (either teacher or student) that I would argue we try to dispel with our work and through the highlighting of students’ experiences with conquering blogging even when they might at first be very resistant. I think I want to take a blog post to answer some of the questions in a true diablog fashion, so I’ll pick this up in a post with some further thoughts.

    Thanks for the great questions!