By Marcia Shannon, Membership Manager
Welcome to the last half of 2023. IDL SIG activity usually slows a little in summer, but we will host several social events. Before I discuss those, I will share my Summit 2023 feedback.
This was my fourth in-person Summit. For the first time, I did more visiting and networking than education. I did attend several sessions but found that I had more satisfaction from time spent catching up with folks I’ve not seen since 2019, finally meeting several of my Zoom-only fellow SIG and chapter colleagues and talking to IDL SIG members and leaders of other SIGs and chapters. I was making up for too many years of too little face-to-face interaction with other tech comm professionals. Swapping stories about adventures in technical communication broadened my outlook while being able to tell several of the presenters how much their sessions provided much-needed information and direction for my next steps. I’m glad I did as much socializing as I did because it filled a space in my spirit.
The session that stands out the most for me was about aural accessibility in training materials. Making Access First: How to Make Aural Information Accessible in Technical Communication, presented by Philip B. Gallagher. Having a niece who is losing her hearing sparked my interest in learning about the challenges of training hearing-impaired employees. Some learners’ first language is ASL (American Sign Language). Incorporating sign language on a screen synched to the visual material and narration is more complicated than just plugging in a window.
Captioning is another area that needs more research and development, especially where the captioning must be done in real-time. I saw this example at a grand-nephew’s high school graduation, where the student names did not survive the captioning service’s best guesses. Imagine a lecture or training session where important words are mangled! Session attendees had a live demonstration about that situation.
For me, the phrase that summed up the concerns and goals of accessibility discussions is “information justice.” It encompasses the requirement to level the fields in learning and employment by building alternate methods for conveying information.
As for third quarter activities, we have our First Fridays @ 5, where you can start a discussion about all things IDL and tech comm. The STC website calendar notes the dates, as are other events, such as webinars and workshops. You will receive details in the announcement emails sent to members each month. I hope you can join one of these events to get to know other SIG members and to share and receive information to help your technical communication and instructional design career flourish.
Several SIG leaders are ready to hand over our roles to others. Please consider volunteering to fill one of those roles; we need your perspective, experience, and enthusiasm to keep the IDL SIG functioning at its best. The leadership roles and committee descriptions are on the IDL website, with short-term projects in the Classifieds section. There is a volunteer position that will fit your talents, so come on in.