Are disabled web publishers hidden behind their content?

Transparent lamb minifigure sitting at a computer desk.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Making our online content accessible to a broad audience is something a lot of us strive to achieve. But how many of us consider who created the content we consume daily and what their publishing journey was?

Impaired vision

Three months after a small bleed in my left eye it’s still a struggle to view things clearly. This is especially the case with digital displays, so I try to choose my limited screen time carefully.

When your “good eye” goes bad (first published 6 July 2021)

Unavoidable screen time

My work at the University of Edinburgh is a priority and lifelong passion. But creating online learning content is almost achieved exclusively via a laptop, tablet or phone. This doesn’t leave much screen time for hobbies and other commitments.

So it’s particularly frustrating when you invest time to help others and the effort isn’t necessarily respected.

Best use of my time?

Last week I volunteered to spend over an hour testing, creating, publishing and promoting a small, but what I deemed important, piece of online content. Later that same day, someone thought it was fine to make a wee joke for themselves with my work.

I did feedback immediately that I thought this was inappropriate, but I was told not to worry and this is just their sense of humour.

Even though the vast majority of people appreciated my efforts, it’s always hard to forget that one fly in the ointment.

Helping people help you 

I try to be transparent about my sight loss and communicate efficiently about its limitations so others can help me if they want to.

I’m the first to admit I’m thin-skinned, so perhaps I just need to re-evaluate where I’m spending my finite screen time each day and choose more wisely.

Disabled creators

In the grand scheme of things this is a very small blip, but it did make me wonder about how we focus most of our attention to accessibility on the needs of content consumers and rarely the creators.

It might take you only a few minutes to consume a piece of content, but for the publisher it could have taken hours, if not days.

Talking openly about our disabilities hopefully helps raise awareness, but maybe there are other technological aids or practices we could consider adopting.

‘Authoring time’

I’ve noticed a few WordPress blogs (other than mine), all Medium posts and LinkedIn shared articles have an estimated ‘reading time’ displayed at the start, perhaps we could include an ‘authoring time’ too?

LinkedIn screen grab showing two shared articles with 6 and 1 minutes reading times.

Nosey parker

Quick question, how many of us inspect the ‘Total editing time’ of a Word document someone sends you? I know I do, it’s sometimes fascinating to read this pretty accurate statistic Microsoft silently records in the background.

Properties window for a Word document showing a total editing time of 9 minutes.

Obligatory Lego reference

In the Lego building world it’s a very common practice to display an estimated build time and number of bricks used next to your model. At shows it’s usually the first question asked, as people are genuinely curious about what effort you put into your creation.

Would knowing it took someone three hours to publish a 30 second online article change anything for the better? Or do we even need to know?

New WordPress plugin?

As always, please let me know your thoughts and whether you think there’s any potential demand for me to develop an authoring time equivalent to the popular reading time plugin.

Existing resources 

Reading Time WP

This reading time plugin is pretty lightweight and can be easily integrated with any WordPress theme. To add it to my website, which uses a modified version of TwentyTwentyOne, I simply added the following lines of code to the ‘content-single.php’ template file:

<?php do_shortcode('[rt_reading_time]'); ?>

‘Reading Time WP’ plugin

WP Sessions Time Monitoring Full Automatic

There’s also another more comprehensive plugin that tracks a broad range of user behaviours, for both administrators and end-users. Of particular interest to us is the ‘Tracking editing time’ feature, which keeps an accurate and aggregated record of all edits made to a post or page.

WP Sessions Time Monitoring Full Automatic’ plugin

N.B. At time of publication my ‘authoring time’ for this article is estimated by this plugin to be 35 minutes.

By Stewart Lamb Cromar

Too geek to function.

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