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DAO sub-editor Marian Cleary asks how we can become more accessible when it comes to content on the site

As Colin Hambrook reported recently, DAO is soon to have a facelift. As well as responding to your comments made via our recent reader survey, we are also keen to build on our previous successes regarding accessibility to the site.

After the site was last overhauled in 2008, DAO received a Commendation for digital access in the prestigious 2009 Jodi Awards. It’s no surprise really since the web company DAO works with - Surface Impression – have long and established relationships with many organisations who prize accessibility to their web content as much as valuing what they are putting out there.

You though, the readers of and audience for our content, are the ones who can really give us an extra layer of insight into the process of making our journal more accessible. And for that reason, we are asking you for comments about how you think we can make things even better.

Bear in mind, we aren’t so much talking about the current site, but we need to know about the niggly things that bug you about accessing things on the web generally, perhaps with a screen reader, or when engaging with images or navigating external links. It might be that you would like some extra ways of opening content or you have a bit of computer kit that doesn’t work with the way DAO currently does things. Or perhaps you simply want more video and audio.

From my point of view, as sub-editor at DAO, speaking as someone who didn’t cry when she saw her babies for the first time after giving birth, but did boo tears of joy when I scored over 80% in my National Council for the Training of Journalists subbing exam, I’d like to know a bit about what works for you specifically when it comes to how text is presented.

It might be that you want more things in bold, such as titles and names, or you think that single quote marks for speech and quotes works better than double quote marks. Should we cap up acronyms like ATOS or should we follow Guardian Style and present them like this: Atos? Are our paragraphs too short? Too long? Do we present the inevitable mix of styles and tones of our writers effectively so you know what to expect? Do you want more text on a page or less?

We aren’t doing a formal survey on this but I would really appreciate your thoughts. You can either comment below this item or send me an email to If you are emailing, can you put DAO SUGGESTION in capitals (just like that) so I can keep your ideas together and so I don’t miss anything?

Once I’ve had a good look at what you have to say, I will be feeding this back to Surface Impression where appropriate.

Then I will be completing my own current work in progress: The DAO Style Guide! This will outline where we are currently in terms of making DAO as accessible as possible and will also be a good reference point, I hope, for all the writers and contributors to the site and all those who are engaged in publishing content. This guide will be another way in which we move towards our goal of becoming as accessible as possible.

So whether you are a regular reader of the content on the site or an occasional visitor to DAO, if you have an opinion on all of this, let me know.

Posted by Anonymous, 31 May 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 18 September 2012

Colin Hambrook, reports on news about DAO, past, present and future

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We've had an exciting time recently finishing off DAO’s New Voices project. Our 2012 group of New Voices writers have been fully engage with DAO. During the project, their blog entries, reviews and interviews have delivered lots of interaction from our readership.

In preparation for our next project, Diverse Perspectives, we’ve been awarded a significant Grants for the Arts award by Arts Council England (ACE) to do a range of things.

Firstly, we are commissioning eight disabled artists to work with arts venues nationally to produce new works over the period of a year for online presentation on DAO, and we hope beyond. These commissions will offer a wide range of artistic engagements with key arts and cultural organisations across the country.

Secondly, DAO's writers, will be out in full force during the Cultural Olympiad to capture the debate and critique the events involving disabled artists and audiences. This includes the 29 Unlimited commissions which will be toured around the country from now until the end of August and will then be part of Southbank’s Unlimited Festival, part of the Festival of the World from 31 August to 9 September 2012.

Thirdly, to help everyone keep track of what is going on, DAO will also be launching a special DAO Guide to 2012 app which will provide a comprehensive listings service with links to artists, venues, events and festivals.

We will also be continuing to work with the Creative Case for Diversity so keep up with this website for dialogue, comment and debate.

DAO will also be getting a facelift! Through our recent reader survey, as well as through general communication with our readership over the past few years, it has been clear that using a side-menu navigation bar hasn't been as successful as we'd have liked in signposting our readers to the massive range, breadth and depth of copy published within the journal.

So to that effect we will be developing a top menu, with a focus on art form rather than content type. This means you’ll more easily find copy on the particular types of content that you are interested in reading about and discussing on our pages. So thank you to everyone who took part in feeding back comment, the good, the bad and the ugly, and please look out for more reader surveys in the future.

These improvements have been taking up a lot of time! And to help us deliver what we do to a higher standard we have taken on a freelance sub-editor, Marian Cleary, who is a welcome addition to DAOs small but committed part-time staff team.

This is a really exciting time for DAO and everyone involved in Disability Arts. There are so many disabled artists aiming for great things this year and DAO will be providing a platform for celebrating, examining and debating all that emerges from this.

So with that combined with our own new commissions, we are really looking forward to what promises to be fascinating times for everyone involved. And that includes you, the readers, artists, commentators, critics, bloggers, venues, programmers and all the people involved in creating the case for not just diversity but entertainment with attitude, debate and discussion, and taking forward what all that those presenting their ideas on DAO, in so many ways, have to say.

Posted by Anonymous, 18 May 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 18 September 2012