I have noticed that many water quality and watershed group websites would be difficult for their intended audiences to understand. The Federal government Plain Language web site has statistics showing surprising low levels of scientific literacy in the population as a whole. Jargon and technical terms defined in the Clean Water Act are unlikely to be easily understood by the general public. Proper interpretation of graphs can be a challenge for some people. Others may encounter difficulties when information visualization relies on full color perception, ability to read small text, or tolerate low contrast. Likewise, video without closed captions, images without descriptions, and user interfaces that require physical dexterity can decrease accessibility.
What it does
This project is more of a proof-of-concept for enhancing a web Report Card or monitoring data page with descriptions intended for different audiences. This initial illustration is for Fecal Bacteria written at the user's chice of Basic, General, and Expert levels. The approach would also work for different languages, geographic areas, types of stakeholders, or other factors to help focus your message for portions of the intended audience.
How we built it
No code was written for this simple demo of the concept of alternate text.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
While the general idea was identified at the start of the Hackathon, team member recruitment was not sufficient for developing working code and UI within the event time frame. When the deadline was extended with allowance for partial completion, we revived the project concept with scope appropriate for the limited time. While not complete, it can serve as a resource or encouragement for others to adapt content for different groups.
What we learned
Even the drastically reduced scope did not fit easily within the deadline. Video production has a late night glitch that we hope to resolve soon.
What's next for Communicating Water Quality Information to Diverse Audiences
We are looking forward to feedback on the perceived benefits of further implementation. It could lead to the creation of a repository (github or other) for plain language descriptions of report card and monitoring data.