The meeting convened at 9:00 a.m. (Central) in the LOR online auditorium.
- Diana Sussman (Southern Illinois Talking Book Center-facilitator)
- Sharon Ruda (Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service)
- Lori Bell (Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center)
- Mary Mohr (Library of Congress)
- Karen Keninger (Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped)
- Dan Bakke (Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped)
- Kim Charlson (Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library)
- Linda Rossman (Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library)
- Stacey Hathaway-Belle (Texas State Library and Archives Commission-Talking Books)
- Joyce Spears (Texas State Library and Archives Commission-Talking Books)
- Barbara Mates (Cleveland Public Library/Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped)
- Will Reed (Cleveland Public Library/Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped)
- Lori Thornton (Washington State Library)
- Melora Norman (Maine State Library Outreach)
- Rachelle Stein (Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library of the New York Public Library)
- Tom Peters (TAP Information Services-recorder)
- Jeff Penka (OCLC) (email@example.com)
- John Hughes (Stoke-on-Trent Office of the Royal National Institute of the Blind in the UK) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Decisions and Actions Items:
- Concerning the issue of possible changes to the suite of software we are using for the InfoEyes service, the group decided to pursue option 2 (QuestionPoint email; QuestionPoint Standard for text chat; and iVocalize for enhanced reference with VoIP, synchronized browsing, and text chat). There was a formal vote on this issue. The results of the voting are:
- Option 1 (Use QP email and QP Standard for text chatting):
- Option 2 (QuestionPoint email; QuestionPoint Standard for text chat; and iVocalize for enhanced reference with VoIP, synchronized browsing, and text chat):
7 votes (Iowa, Perkins, Washington, LC, Cleveland, Maine, MITBC)
- Option 3 (Use QP email for asynchronous online reference service, and iVocalize for all forms of synchronous online reference (e.g., text chatting, VoIP)):
3 votes (NYPL, Texas, and TAP Info)
- Option 4 (Pursue some sort of hybrid beta testing):
2 (Illinois State Library Talking Books and Braille Service and the Southern Illinois Talking Book Center)
- Option 1 (Use QP email and QP Standard for text chatting):
- Lori Bell will change the InfoEyes website (www.inforeyes.org) to reflect these decisions. The options will be listed in the following order on the website: email, iVocalize (when everyone is trained), text chat (which will be described as a popular VR interface for text chatting, but does not work well with screen readers). Kim Charlson and Karen Kenninger volunteered to help make the InfoEyes website accessible, including loading more information into each link. Will Reed and Melora Norman also offered to help with the website changes.
- Lori Bell will send everyone direct links to email, QP text chat and ivocalize room so that they can link directly from their websites.
- The group agreed to pull QPE immediately and monitor only QP Standard text chat and QP email until everyone is trained in iVocalize in May. When we drop QPE, we need to place an explanation on the website.
- Training will commence during the week of May 10. Tom Peters will send out some possible dates and times. The training will cover how to use iVocalize for reference service, how to pull session information into the QP management module, and a basic operator sequence of steps for coming on and going off the InfoEyes reference desk.
- Tom and Diana will create a crib sheet for reference providers on how to logon, logoff, and put session info into to the management system. This document for InfoEyes reference providers also will contain the basic procedures and tips for interacting with QP for email, text chat, and the information management module.
- Someone needs to send everyone instructions on how to remove the "call now" persistent button from the upper left corner of our browsers.
Summaries of Discussion Points:
Note: There was much discussion during this meeting. Numerous ideas, suggestions, and issues were shared and explored. Many but not all are summarized below. If you would like a complete audio recording of the meeting, please contact Tom Peters (email@example.com).
- Diana Sussman welcomed everyone and announced the discussion with OCLC yesterday. The upcoming NLS conference has brought the InfoEyes accessibility issues to the forefront.
- Jeff Penka summarized what OCLC has been doing to increase the accessibility of QP software suite. They see the InfoEyes pilot project as an outstanding opportunity to get some real experience with having print-impaired users use QP. This pilot is very much vision-driven. How can we collaboratively serve the print-impaired population in a new way? OCLC experienced a road bump in Jan./Feb. as they attempted to scale up the system. OCLC is learning the limitations of the software suite as it attempts to interface with screen reader software. Jeff mentioned the technology constraints of making software available worldwide. This is like trying to turn a battleship on a quarter. A development team is working on QPS. They have full control of the code. Lori Thornton in Washington state has had focus group sessions with print-impaired early teens to learn ways to make VR more accessible and usable. The current development cycle will put upgrades into production in late summer, with previews as early as June. OCLC has spoken with five other possible providers of enhanced VR (including VoIP), but the timelines and cost estimates have been generally prohibitive. So OCLC continues to work with Convey systems. Jeff pointed out that how browsers interact with screen readers is part of the challenge. Jeff thinks it is terrific that we want to experiment with iVocalize to provide enhanced VR.
- Melora Norman asked about accessibility for low-vision users. The QPE interface seems to have small print and isn't easily customized. Jeff said the librarian's QPE tool should inherit the browser's settings.
- Tom Peters asked about the screen refresh problem with QPS, which seems to scramble screen readers. Jeff Penka responded that QPS uses a hidden frame and a frame set. It is refreshing every five seconds to see if anyone has added text. Jeff sees this as a fairly straightforward problem, in the sense that print-impaired users could be redirected to a site that does not refresh, or that does not refresh as often.
- Diana suggested that accessibility be made available to all, rather than redirecting print-impaired users to a different site.
- Melora Norman asked why there is less delay with iVocalize than with QPE. QPE is using a firewall conference manager (FCM). The audio delay is less the closer you are to a FCM. iVocalize's software is about two generations newer than the VoIP used in QPE.
- Does the "walkie-talkie" method lead to better results? Yes, probably.
- Karen Keninger asked if OCLC was going to have some overt beta testers, rather than using InfoEyes patrons as covert beta testers. OCLC is looking to learn from this experience. OCLC is recruiting some sites to participate in various usability studies. We are in a live-and-learn environment here.
- Melora Norman asked if there is a benefit to having two or more people able to talk at once. Jeff said that the perceived benefit is the need to do less and a minimized learning curve. QPE doesn't require much learning curve. Two-way is more like talking on a telephone.
- Lori Bell observed that she prefers the walkie-talkie method. That way, everyone is assured that only one person will be speaking at once.
- Barbara Mates asked if OCLC is making the OCLC homepage Section 508 compliant. Also, when working on the accessibility aspect of QP, will staff work to address usability, which is another issue. Jeff reported that 508-compliance is a corporate-wide initiative at OCLC. Accessibility, usability, and localization/globalization issues are related. OCLC is doing some onsite workflow observations of staff members and work groups using QuestionPoint.
- Diana asked if the three blind OCLC staff members are involved in usability testing. Jeff said that they are, and they are working with other blind users.
- Barbara Mates asked if we should see some improvement by summer. Jeff said that the accessibility of QP Standard definitely will improve with the August install. The improvements will be available for review and testing beginning in June.
- Melora Norman asked how OCLC would like to proceed with the InfoEyes project, ideally. Jeff recommends that we find something that works well for the population we serve. This has been an investment of faith on the part of OCLC. Jeff wants us to be able to achieve our mission, and that OCLC can learn from the process.
- Barbara Mates invited Jeff to come to Cleveland to observe users using QP. Jeff said he would try to schedule a visit.
- John Hughes from the UK observed that this is excellent software. He works at the Stoke-on-Trent RNIB. He wants more information about this auditorium. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Diana thanked Jeff for meeting with us online yesterday and today.
- [Jeff Penka from OCLC left the session at this point.]
- Diana said that one proposal was to drop QPE and use iVocalize for enhanced VR. QPS enhancements will be in preview mode in June, and in production in August. With QPE evidently there is not much they can do in the short term. We have received no indication that Convey has offered any solutions to the accessibility and usability problems with QPE. When we started this pilot, we had no idea we were going to experience so many QPE problems and frustrations. We have provided a sufficient amount of information to OCLC about the accessibility issues. Diana suggests we no longer subject our patrons to QPE.
- Stacey Hathaway-Bell observed that QPE does not work very well, even beyond the basic accessibility issues.
- Karen Keninger asked if we would still have access to their email interface, chat interface, management system, and FirstSearch trial databases.
- Kim Charlson clarified the proposal: replace QPE with iVocalize, but keep all the other OCLC components.
- Lori Bell wondered if we should use iVocalize for both chat and enhanced. Tom Peters also wondered if this would help simplify the options we present to patrons, and decrease the need on the part of the reference librarians to monitor multiple systems.
- Diana demonstrated co-browsing in iVocalize, and how you can cut and paste the results page from a proprietary database into iVocalize. The group did some testing [Mary Mohr rejoined the meeting at this point.] This functionality of iVocalize is more like page pushing, rather than true co-browsing. Diana wonders if we want to drop both QPS and QPE, in part because that is not what we have presented to OCLC.
- Kim Charlson noted that JAWS scripts make iVocalize accessible to print-impaired users. Once iVocalize gets set up, it works smoothly. Kim suggested that we continue using QPE in certain service situations. [John Hughes left the meeting at this point.]
- Will Reed reported that they plan to place information in their newsletter regarding the InfoEyes service. What should they say will be available? How should they promote the service?
- Both Will Reed and Melora Norman suggested that a small group do some basic testing of the usability and accessibility of iVocalize and other software options in this class.
- Diana suggested that we offer two different interfaces for enhanced online reference, both QPE and iVocalize.
- Lori expressed concern that too many options would dissuade patrons from trying the service. She suggested we just provide two options: QP email and iVocalize for all interactive online reference (text chat and VoIP).
- Lori Thornton reported that Seattle had experienced firewall problems with iVocalize.
- Diana asked how we would integrate iVocalize sessions into the QP management module. Diana suggested that we be clear with OCLC about not using QPS as well, if we decide to go that route.
- Mary Mohr thinks OCLC would not have a problem with a decision we may make to stop using both QPE and QPS.
- Joyce would vote for dropping QPE but stick with QPS for text chatting. She thinks adding all those sessions by hand into the OCLC management module could be very onerous. Dropping both would be too much.
- Karen and Kim reminded folks that QPS is very difficult to use with a screen reader. Kim strongly encouraged the group to go with iVocalize.
- Sharon suggested that Jeff will support whatever we feel is necessary to make this work for our patrons.
- The group finally decided to formally vote on four options:
- Use QP email and QP Standard for text chatting
- QP email, QP Standard for text chatting, and iVocalize for enhanced online reference interactions
- Use QP email for asynchronous online reference service, and iVocalize for all forms of synchronous online reference (e.g., text chatting, VoIP)
- Pursue some sort of hybrid beta testing.
- Melora noted that Maine is trying to involve several staff members in this project. Melora thinks we need one interface if possible . . . don't want to have to log into multiple products.
- Rachelle observed, "Using QPE has been very frustrating for my staff and has hurt our ability to provide the service we're supposed to. If we can do better with ivocalize from here on, then service-wise, it makes sense to go to it for everything it can take over for us."
- Lori Thornton observed, "I only want to keep QP basic if the summer roll out is an improvment but keeping out options open at this point (FirstSearch databases access is important) would be wise."
- Stacey wondered that, if we use iVocalize, how will we log the sessions. iVocalize really does not offer any way to log sessions.
- Diana noted several issues with iVocalize:
- not true co-browsing, in the sense that it may be difficult or impossible for the patron to share pages back with the reference librarian;
- the process of downloading the plug-in sometimes asks patrons to download ActiveX (a free plug-in from Microsoft);
- IE works better than Netscape with iVocalize;
- patrons with the same name as an administrator may not be able to enter the room
- Lori suggested that participating libraries monitor the "channels" that they feel comfortable with them. The group decided not to pursue this idea, because most people want a uniformity of service options during the hours we are open.
The online meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m. CDT.