As we navigate the physical world, most of us have some awareness about accessibility features in place to help the disabled: ramps, elevators and lifts, adapted washrooms, and parking spaces close to buildings.
However, far fewer people are aware of the equivalent features for websites. When website accessibility features are neglected, it can prevent people with visual disabilities and the deaf or hard-of-hearing from having a useful browsing experience. Imagine visiting a website and finding the following:
All the images look like a grey square to you, because you are red-green colorblind.
The content includes podcasts and videos that you can't hear, because of an auditory disability.
The font is too small for you to read.
The Accessibility Testing – Mormon.org project aims to make Mormon.org more accessible, and ultimately to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to more people than ever. The accessibility principles and techniques used on Mormon.org can be used for other Church websites as well.
The following is a video interview with Stephan Heilner, project lead with the Gospel Library and LDSTools iOS projects. We talk about how to help out with the iOS projects, among other things. We recorded this video at the August LDSTech Service Day.
The following is a general transcript of the video.
My Study Notebook is your own personal, private space on LDS.org to organize and study your notes from living prophets, scriptures, and the gospel library. The following video provides a short introduction to My Study Notebook.
The LDSTech community consists of hundreds of Church employees, members, and volunteers that come together to discuss, learn about, or work on Church technology. The LDSTech site has several components — a blog, a discussion forum, a wiki, and a projects section. Each is used for a different purpose:
Blog: Informs members about the latest Church technology news and projects.
Forum: Allows members to ask questions and exchange ideas about technology.
Wiki: Hosts instructional articles and other technical information.
Projects: Allows community members to work together in teams to build software applications and other solutions.
Despite the different uses, the common theme of the LDSTech site is Church technology.
A code library is a compilation of code originally written for a particular software application that can be used in other applications. At the Church, any code that developers have not written themselves while working on Church applications is called a “code library.”
Using a code library is one of the most popular ways to reuse content created for the web. After all, a lot of different applications are released every day, but many of their essential functions are the same. A code library offers developers a shortcut. Rather than write all code from scratch, you can simply borrow the existing code that others have written and spend more time refining unique parts of your app.
For example, if you are developing a photo album as part of a mobile app for a touch-enabled phone, you can get a code library that allows you to resize images by using a pinching motion with your fingers. Code libraries can be used for simple functions, such as changing the font, or for complex functions such as multi-step financial calculations.
The use of Church-produced smartphone apps among Church members is steadily increasing. Seminary teachers, for example, have noted that many of their students have begun to use the standard works provided by the Gospel Library app in place of traditional scriptures, citing the convenience of pulling up their scriptures on their phones as opposed to hauling the printed volumes around.
Use of these technological resources is limited, however, as not all Church-produced apps are available to all smartphone users. There are currently five official Church mobile applications — Gospel Library, Mormon Channel, LDS Tools, Scripture Mastery, and LDS Youth.
All five apps are available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch Apple devices, but only Gospel Library, Mormon Channel, and LDS Tools are available to Android users. The potential audience for the Scripture Mastery app is drastically reduced because it’s only available on Apple devices.
The calendar team will be running a beta test so users can work with the new calendar application and provide critical feedback to help discover issues before the official release. The team is looking for at least 30 testers, particularly individuals that have roles as stake administrators, ward administrators, building schedulers, and stake and ward clerks.
While all are welcome, beta volunteers that live in diverse locations and serve in Church units that cover large geographic areas would be of great value for this testing.
The Church is working on a beta program that will allow third-party developers to apply for approved access to the Church’s repository of gospel content. The access will require developers to sign an intellectual property license agreement and will specify what content is approved for distribution. The third-party developers will then receive an API that allows them to access Church content (such as magazines, manuals, scriptures, conference addresses, and other gospel resources) for use in their applications.
Not long ago, my wife received a new calling as the ward photographer. Her task, like many of her predecessors in wards around the world, was to create a ward photo directory for the bishopric to use. The bishopric was new, and learning names as well as faces was important.
My wife (and later a second ward photographer) spent hours corralling ward members after church or at ward functions to take family pictures. This was followed by cropping, editing, and creating a document with ward family names and contact information. Finally, printed photos were placed into the pages of the newly created binder with tabs. By the time they finished, there were already move-ins and move-outs to contend with.