Close up of two hands holding a phone and a 3D castle is popping out of the phone screen

Sinking my Teeth into Professional Development: Accessibility Edition

It’s been a minute (as the kids-these-days say) since I’ve taken on any substantial professional development.

I’m always reading articles, white papers, and case studies relative to this communicative world we live in, but the professional, personal, and pandemic stressors of today have kept me from enrolling in any kind of course that would add real beef to my skill-set sandwich.

Thanks to the university system for which I work, however, I was able to turn that around and take advantage of a full suite of online accessibility training free-of-charge this month. It was coursework I’ve long filed under “I really need to do this,” and once I got started, I wished I’d done it sooner.

Digital accessibility — the process of making websites, apps, and everything on ’em accessible to all, regardless of disability type or severity of impairment — is a discussion that surrounds a lot of what I do as a writer and marketer. With so much of the content we create headed online as a final destination, checking that screen readers, closed captioning services, and other assistive tech can interact with that content is imperative.

That said, it’s also easy to get lost in the mire of everything that needs to be done to get a message out at all, and fail to check or optimize accessibility. Or, in what seems to happen even more often, we limp along with just enough of an understanding to make a document, photo, or video compliant, but not necessarily ideal for the end-user.

That’s when those “I really need to take a class…” thoughts start creeping in, because we, the content creators, know through both gut and experience that it’s easier to make something accessible upon creation, not after-the-fact.

So finally, I’ve taken the damn class. Offered through Deque University —an off-shoot of global accessibility consultancy Deque Systems Inc. — I plowed through 22 online accessibility training courses and earned four curricula certificates, and I’m feeling much better.

The courses were meaty; I know I’ll use the information in my job immediately, and frankly there’s something to be said for finishing the quizzes and receiving your certificate and continuing education credits. It’s very Pavlovian.

Here’s a run-down of what I was able to bite off by carving time out of late afternoons and evenings:

DeQue University certificate of completion

Document Accessibility Curriculum 1.2 Certificate

This set of courses is probably the most appropriate for a full-time writer or communications wonk like myself. It includes 11 classes focused on ensuring documents are created with accessibility in mind, from Word docs to PDFs to online content.

DeQue University certificate of completion

Accessibility Program Management Curriculum 2.0 Certificate

I think I ultimately enjoyed this curriculum the most, as it presented a lot of new information and taught me some new tricks. It consists of five classes focused on ‘baking in’ accessibility at a departmental level, continuing some of the document accessibility lessons from a managerial perspective, and adding others with a legal flavor. An overview of Section 508, for instance, dives deep into the requirements all Federal agencies and departments must meet to provide access to information and communication technology to people with disabilities.

DeQue University certificate of completion

Native Mobile Apps Curriculum 1.0 Curriculum Certificate

This three-course block focused on accessibility as it applies to mobile apps — managing, designing, and testing.

Jaclyn Stevenson
has completed the courses in the
Customer Service for People with Disabilities
Version 1.0
28th of May, 2021
4 courses, 1.00 IAAP Continuing Accessibility Education Credits (CAECs)

Customer Service for People with Disabilities 1.0 Curriculum Certificate

It seemed like a no-brainer to take this unit, and the four-class run included communications courses geared toward both in-person and remote conversation. It also came with the added benefit of a glossary of accepted and unaccepted terms that can be added to our style guide.

While I didn’t have any particular allegiance to Deque as a training body before, these curricula definitely felt important and applicable while I was taking them; they’re updated frequently, well-written, and appear to be recognized as valuable certificates out there in the zeitgeist.

What are you getting certified in these days?

Cover Image by FunkyFocus from Pixabay

Call for Blogtoberfest Entries!

I always welcome guest posts at The Jump, but I take the collection thereof more seriously from October 1 to All Hallows Eve. The results have been varied and awesome, ranging in topic from witches to zombies to Neil Diamond.

Over the years, Blogtoberfest Guest Post submissions evolved into a full-on contest, with winners, prizes, and the bestowing of appropriate amounts of online glory.

Winners will be decided by readers via an online poll at the end of the month. There’s no length requirement or limit, and posts need not be spooky. October is also the month of harvest, baseball, and Breast Cancer Awareness. It may be that you or your organization has an annual event this month that deserves a little publicity. Whatever the topic – if it says October to you is fair game!

Prizes will be announced soon, and posts are accepted throughout the month, so get writing and send your entries to writerjax -at-!

Something Scary at the Museum…

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As soon as I heard word of Something Scary at Berkshire Museum, I couldn’t wait to tour the exhibit.

Something Scary is a study of phobias on view through October 31, 2016. This is right up my dark, ominous alley…an exploration of fears. Art presented as something spookier than it originally was meant to be. Creepy lighting.

But at the same time, no-one is jumping out in front of me, no-one is touching me, and no chain-less chainsaws are buzzing in my ear.

Something Scary was developed by guest curator Kirsti Scutt Edwards, director of curatorial affairs Maria Mingalone, and exhibitions manager Jason Verchot, to allow visitors a chance to  – as the press release reads – “explore their terrors and trepidations …through the museum’s existing eclectic collection.”

This is true. But further, seeing is believing and I’m truly impressed with how this exhibit – which incidentally only houses half of the second-floor evolving exhibit space – was devised.

I was greeted with an amazing shadow show that actually showcased sculptures from the museum’s collection in relief. Beyond, a family portrait stared at me… no matter where I went. It wasn’t until I moved to another part of the exhibit that I realized the eyes were cut out to accommodate holes, from which other visitors could peer.

The literary nerd in me appreciated the horror-quotes interspersed among the art, as well as the Vote-by-Eyeball poll asking ‘What Scares You the Most?’ And, perhaps most importantly, my two-year-old daughter loved the whole experience – the pink lights, the ‘snake pit’ (a ball pit with rubber snakes inside…no thanks), and the ‘make your own monster’ puppet station.

This exhibit just proves I live in the right place for Blogtoberfest. The temperature is ripe for spooking.

#TBT May 2008: Snark, Car Shows, Pasta Salad & Yoga

Note: The following blog posts originally appeared on The Jump in May 2008, when it was hosted at blog-city. They’re gradually being added back into the current blog as #TBTs, so not to overwhelm subscribers.

How Do You Write a Blog Post About Things That Annoy You Without Sounding Snarky or Unbalanced?

4526411483_739e65404b_zYou can’t.

Roll with it.

I will, however, temper every gripe with something I like:

1. I hate it when people try to make me feel, ironically, stupid for using a word, term, or topic in conversation they don’t understand. This goes back to high school for me, but now, as a gainfully employed woman who writes for a living, I’m ready for y’all to shut it already. It’s not like I’m quoting Proust or something. And if you just asked what I meant, you’d know something new you didn’t know before. Trust me- this would make you a better person and probably a lot funnier.

But I do like – daisies. They’re sunny and simple, like nature’s vapid little Homecoming Queen.

2. I hate it when I’m interrupted in the middle of a sentence, especially when the interrupter was not part of the conversation to begin with. It’s not cool, so stop it. You’re not that important.

But I do like – Karamel Sutra ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s. I like it so much I won’t smear it all over your face when you interrupt me, because I would not want to waste any of the delicious caramel core inside.

3. An addendum to number one – people who assume they know everything and go through life saying supposably, expresso, prostrate cancer, and irregardless.

But i do like – espresso with a nice chocolate chip croissant.

4. I hate women who think it’s cute to act dumb or talk like children. You’re setting all of us back decades every time you giggle and twirl your hair and say ‘Iiiiiiii dooooon’ttt knoooowwww.’

But I do like – Falling asleep to a thunderstorm. Serenity Now.

5. Conversely, I also can’t stand children who act like adults. Mostly little actors. The only motivation a 5-year-old should have is Chicken McNuggets or an extra half-hour of Dora.

But I do like – scarves and hats. And playing dress-up.

Published: Friday, 9 May 2008


A visitor‘ left this comment on 21 May 08
You forgot “precussion”

A visitor‘ left this comment on 13 May 08
This is hilarious. I’ll need to remember to mix in my nasties with some lollipops and rainbows. It does make them go down easier!

A visitor‘ left this comment on 13 May 08
Amen. Can I add one to the interrupter? I hate when people interrupt me to finish my sentence — *and* then they don’t even get it right! Arg!!

A visitor‘ left this comment on 12 May 08
Hey, I tend to snark even on things I like (see, for example, my 50 favorite TV shows). But I’ll bite. Irregardless of whether or not you axed, I am so impressed with your list that I prostate myself before it. And a half-hour of Dora would be as welcome on my TV as a half-hour of jellyfish stings or a half-hour of getting punched in the face by Celine Dion in full warble. Chicken McNuggets are OK, though.

Weekend Pasta Salad

“Wacky Mac” multi-colored veggie rotini, ranch dressing, lemon juice, parm. cheese, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar, yellow pepper, tomato, scallions, and broccoli. The bowl is from Homegoods.

Published: Sunday, 11 May 2008 Tags: pasta salad food

The Horror! The Sandwiches! The Surf Rock! (Very Late Weekend Update)

I didn’t see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre until I was in my twenties. A group of friends and I rented a bunch of horror movies and loaded up on junk food while I was renting a house in Osterville, Mass., and we camped in the living room for hours of paranoid fun.

Everyone up ‘n left immediately after the last tape in the batch ended, with Leatherface waving his chainsaw in the air at the permanently damaged heroine escaping in the back of a pick-up truck.

I love horror movies. But I was shelled. And when I suddenly found myself completely alone in a big house in the woods of Cape Cod, the terror of that sick flick only grew. It still freaks me out – even the bad remakes and sequels and prequels are disturbing.

However, it’s the dawn of a kindler, gentler new day for Texas, Chainsaws, and Massacres. This weekend, back at the Cape to do some event planning, I had one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had by the same name, at the Box Office Cafe in Chatham, where all of the sandwiches, drinks, and pizzas are named after movies (I blogged about the place once before here).

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t messy nor does it contain people, so I’m not sure where it got its name, but here’s the lineup: cracked pepper turkey, roast beef, pesto, mayo, tomato, and mozzarella cheese on a toasted ciabatta. Killer.

sandwich box office cafe

Some of the other offerings include The Poseidon (tuna), The Rocky (Italian), The Animal House (meatball sub), and The Caddy Shack (a club sub). As for pizza, there’s the Good Night and Good Luck, for one — described as topped with garlic, garlic, tomatoes, and more garlic — and for breakfast, there’s a selection of sandwiches all named after directors. Where else are you going to walk in and say “Uh, yeah, hi. I’ll have a medium coffee and an Erich Von Stroheim. Thanks.”

Plus, the Box Office has a cute mini-store with mugs, totes, and t-shirts like these:


After lunch, there were other interesting things happening on the Cape of Cod this weekend: we spotted a cruise night sponsored by the Cape Cod Classic Car Club in Dennis, for instance:

cape cod crusie night

And on Saturday night, we caught Earth Junior at Arturo’s. EJ is my brother’s band – a surf rock trio that’s been playing on the cape for more than a decade. They treated the crowd to Sweet Caroline during the seventh inning of the Red Sox game:

My brother told me he hated the rendition, but I had to share it with Red Sox Nation. And besides, it’s not like they massacred it or anything.

Published: Wednesday, 21 May 2008 Tags: sandwich box office cafe texas chainsaw massacre earth junior sweet caroline red sox 12009 cape cod classic car club


Writerjax‘ left this comment on 22 May 08
Really!! I agree the naming of things has a certain je n’ais e quois that really raises the bar for the item being eaten.

That said, a Kevin Smith … I’m going to say at McDonald’s that’d be about the equivalent of an egg mcmuffin. Substantive, with a hint of cheese and a propensiity toward the silent but deadly.

A visitor‘ left this comment on 22 May 08
That’s an awesome idea…I’m now going to name everything I eat…I will insist that the rest of the world comply or at least play along…I’m going to McDonald to order a Kevin Smith right now…thanks

Memorial Day Staycation (Weekend update)

Happy Tuesday as some of us return to the working week … I wish I could recount hundreds of long-weekend adventures for you, but alas it was a pretty low-key holiday for me. And as Stuart Smalley would say, ‘and that’s … ok.’

I started the weekend off, however, trying out a new recipe from Bakerella, the Queen of Cupcakes and all things yummy. I was a little timid after painstakingly creating a braciole from the Good Eats Web site a couple of weeks ago that was more like a salt lick than an Italian delicacy, so I decided to give one of the more simple-looking recipes a try — peanut butter balls.

Success, and my hat off to Bakerella. She’s a culinary genius for World 2.0. The secret is in the Nutter Butters …

and the dipping is relatively easy. Mine aren’t as symmetrical as Bakerella’s but still tasty.

On Saturday, the highlight of the day had to have been a random, huge flea market we happened upon. Apparently Steve McQueen was there before us:

And in the evening, it was off to dinner at one of my favorite places, Cal’s, and then to join the rest of humanity in seeing the new Indiana Jones flick. For what it’s worth, I’m glad we went, and it was good for what it’s intended to be; a transition piece introducing Shia LeBoeuf as the next generation Indy (aka Mutt). Still, it’s no Temple of Doom, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be.

It was around the credits that my second major allergy attack of the season set in, thus setting the tone for the rest of the weekend – sniffly, ears plugged, throat scratchy, ARGH! I muscled through with some craft projects (started repainting the front porch planters, more on that later) and a CSI marathon on Spike TV. Which apparently is the ‘man channel.’ Whatever.

I also pulled out one of my older yoga DVDs, since I wasn’t going to make it to the gym. It’s actually a DVD with a companion book:

…and not a bad 30-minute cycle at all. It’s pretty low-budget – just Yolanda and an Oriental rug, really – but it’s low-stress enough that I went through the cycle twice.

Now, it’s back to the grind … thankful for the short week, though. Meatier posts to come soon, including a 40 under 40 recap and a review of Marie Antoinette: The Journey, which my faithful readers know took me about four and a half years to finish (maybe more like eight months. But still. Eight months? Stop falling asleep with the book on your face, Grandma.)