InfoEyes Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes
Time: 1:00pm central; 2:00pm eastern.
- S. IL
- Tap Information Services
- M. IL
- Hank (visually impaired computer user and blind veterans association)
- Barry Levine (blind library leader in Illinois)
- Jean (toward end of meeting; not introduced)
- Andre DuBois (toward end of meeting; not introduced)
Libraries/states/organizations unable to attend:
1) Welcome (Diana)
2) Discussion of 3/12 accessibility meeting with OCLC (Diana / Lori / Tom)
Minutes from that meeting were provided to the group in a separate document. Minutes were reviewed. Highlights from 3/12/04 meeting:
- Discussion of experiences with Question Point Enhanced and basic chat in terms of workability and accessibility.
- Details of compatability with JAWS and Window Eyes screen readers.
- Attributes of iVocalize software
- Report from OCLC that they are evaluating the general usability, accessibility, and next generation functionality for QuestionPoint. They are looking at a lot of different products and services in their assessment, including iVocalize.
- Report from OCLC that servers are now in two locations, servers have been upgraded, and are now dedicated servers, isolated from all other traffic.
It was recommended that we not be shy about reporting technical problems to the listserv.
3) Review of the role of Question Point basic chat & Question Point Enhanced (Lori / Diana)
- Question Point Standard with basic chat features (QPS) and Question Point Enhanced with co-browsing and voice over IP (QPE) are basically two systems with three access points.
- The email system is integrated with QPS.
- Transcripts from email, QPS chat, and QPE sessions can be accessed through the Question Point module.
- QPS and QPE are monitored separately while working the desk.
- It does work to open QP for both InfoEyes and your home library's reference service (ISL and LOC both do this).
4) Publicity (Lori)
At the time of this meeting there had been seven email questions in the last 24 hours. Some interaction has been with librarians. Libraries being interested is great.
Listserv publicity: Lori Bell sent messages to the following listservs regarding InfoEyes: blindnews, blindbooks, electrobooks, access-l, livereference, dig-ref, web4lib. Barry Levine saw InfoEyes publicity posted on the ACBL list and another list. Barry has not seen discussion about it on the lists. We have received some email responses from people who have noticed publicity.
Review of program structure/origins:
- Began with an alpha test in Illinois
- This is now a multi-state beta test
- We are not yet IMLS grant funded (will know in September whether we will receive IMLS grant funding).
- Full program launch is scheduled for this fall.
Barry Levine's comments as to the importance of this project (summarized): It's cutting edge technology and for once the visually impaired community will be keeping up with the rest of the population. It melds and merges with what the rest of the world is doing. Pursuit of information is lacking in the blind community. Regarding public (print) libraries: "It has grown to be a psychological fear in the blind community." If this project succeeds, there should be no reason the reference librarian should need to know the virtual patron is blind. If it reaches that point, this will be true integration.
There has been interest from the mainstream library community. At the Library of Congress, Mary Mohr often serves blind patrons using QPS chat. She comments that if we get to where we don't need to know if the patron is blind, then we'll know we've succeeded.
Tutor.com: Stacey Hathaway-Bell (TX) asked about Tutor.com virtual reference software. She found their interface very easy to use, a "smoother ride" (although she is not blind and doesn't use a screen reader). She asked if there are advantages to using QP over Tutor.com. She contacted Tutor.com to ask about accessibility, but they didn't know how to answer her question. Answer from Lori Bell (M. IL): With Tutor.com there is an accessibility problem with the frames. Frames cause problems for screen readers. It's not totally accessible. She and Diana Sussman (S. IL) met with Tutor.com prior to this project. Both QP (OCLC) and Tutor.com have expressed interest in accessibility, but OCLC offered the free trial. Diana: when we last spoke with Tutor.com they said they were moving away from a windows/explorer-based interface to create more stability in their product so that they don't experience problems with every windows update. However, screen readers are built around the windows environment, so moving away from that could actually further complicate accessibility. Tutor.com is planning to include voice over IP, but they report that they don't see it as important.
A good contact for Tutor.com: John Fallon, President of Tutor.com company: email: email@example.com
Lori Bell: The IMLS grant is not written specifically for use with QP. Nothing is quite accessible. It will be interesting to see what comes out in the fall. We could even switch and do two different software pieces during the IMLS grant period.
GW Micro (Window Eyes) told Barry Levine that they would contact the software providers regarding problems with downloading QPE.
5) Revisiting guidelines for when to refer a patron to their home library. (Diana)
- At our last advisory committee meeting we decided: Refer the patron to their home library for follow up if you cannot answer their question. Follow up is to be in the hands of the patron's home state.
- However, this question has come up (from Linda Rossman at Perkins): Under usual reference circumstances, we try to get the answer for a patron as quickly as possible; but often we have to do a more in-depth search and for many questions we end up taking the patron's number and giving a call back. If, in this project, we can't locate the immediate answer while the patron is "on the line" and need more time to do a more thorough search, are we supposed to offer to call the patron back or just refer them back to their own home library?
- What procedures can we establish in instances like this when you can answer a question, but it will take more time?
Points Diana (S. IL) brought to consider:
- Consider what best serves the patron
- Consider our own work flow in this equation
- Limit on amount of time given to a single reference question before referring it to the patron's home library?
- What follow-up method to use? Phone? Email? Patron 'call back' into InfoEyes? Other?
- Method of referral to home library? Ask patron to contact home library? Contact home library for patron: by phone? By emailing session text chat? Other?
- Other issues to consider?
- You can take text chat offline and email the patron when you've completed the questions.
- You can transfer the question to the home library within QP (Mary will show us how to do that, and some settings need to be changed to allow for that)
- Don't have the patron contact their own home library. Do it for them.
- If the patron doesn't have a home library then answer their question. Call or email their Talking Book Center if you need to and the TBC is not an InfoEyes participant.
- Let other states know when you get use from their patrons. Don't violate confidentiality by mentioning names and particulars. Just let them know that the interest is there.
Concern expressed about answering questions that are not disability related:
- You can post stumpers to the listserv and let Lori know when you don't know how to answer a question.
- Mary has done QP for two years. She uses the Library of Congress web site and the internet to answer most questions.
- Do a google search.
- Reference training at NLS libraries would need to be improved if this project takes off. Many of us haven't been on a reference desk in a long time
- Mary will send a quick list of useful online resources to the listserv
Accessibility of sites on the internet:
- Mary doesn't type in an answer; she sends a web site. We could use some training on how to tell if a site is accessible.
- Barry Levine thinks as a sighted user, you can't tell. There are some programs where you can send a page through to see if it's accessible, but that just adds a step.
- It would be useful to have crib sheets on how to download Adobe Reader and Microsoft Reader (for when patrons need to do this to access a web site).
6) Referral of email questions from Lori to people working on the InfoEyes desk (Lori)
- How will we keep track of who has taken care of email questions?
- Do all questions posed via the email link go into the QPS queue?
- Mary will teach QP management software in May.
- After training, libraries will be able to claim unanswered questions and answer them.
- For the first month, Mary, Tom, Lori, and the ISL will take care of the queue for emailed and unanswered questions.
- Meanwhile, when you end a QPS chat question, you can close it if you've completed it, or make it pending if it needs more work.
7) Sharing the patron's web browser (Diana)
- Advantages (easier for the patron; no double scroll bars for them).
- Disadvantages (patron has to give librarian permission to take control: buttons for that need to be bigger)
8) Procedure for when a person is not responding to text chat:
- Turn on URL share and send them this page:
http://www.infoeyes.org/accessibilitytips.htm (page can be added to your scripts for easy access)
- Say aloud, "It seems like you are having trouble. I have just sent you a web page with instructions to help you communicate with me." (This should also be added to scripts for easy recall)
- Once the patron gets into the box, remember to turn off URL share before doing any App. Share.
9) Future issues to address: (Tom Peters)
- Policy for addressing pending/unclaimed questions in the QP standard chat queue.
- Review of how to tell when a question in the queue is unanswered (May training should address this).
- Policy on whether to wait for new person to log on before you log out. (Don’t wait. Go by the clock.)
- When more than one librarian is logged on, how to divide up the questions in an unambiguous fashion (maybe decide among yourselves that one of you will monitor QPS chat and the other will monitor QPE).
- within QPS and QPE, is there a way for two or more logged in librarians to communicate among themselves? (some discussion of instant messaging, although some libraries have a policy against it).
10) Any other issues needing clarification, either now or in future meetings? (Diana)
11) Comments, suggestions, questions, resolutions about project launch? (Diana)
Please share epiphanies about nice tricks and good web sites.