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I was in Ottawa earlier this week with Dan to present our groups work in web-mapping accessibility to date.  The represented agencies were Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Parks Canada and one more group which I am blanking on right now.   After a couple meetings with the IACG, it is apparent that each agency has chosen to tackle the web-mapping accessibility problem a bit differently, which I think will be useful for the IACG as we will all be able to contribute something different to the cause.  Technically we all have the same target audience, Canadian citizens, so I think our solutions have been based on the purpose of the web-mapping applications for each agency.

The importance of the purpose of the map was highlighted when I presented my thesis work to them as a point of interest.  There was a general consensus that in my study, I shouldn’t just be asking the participants to describe a map on its own, but I also need to supply the query options that were chosen in order to produce that map.  I agree wholeheartedly with this, and it has been a topic of numerous discussions with my research partner.  The reason I’ve decided to first gather some descriptions based on the map without the query options is because I’m going off very little ground work in this area (at least that I have been able to find so far)*.  I would like to start out with descriptions of just the map, and then follow up with gathering descriptions based on the map AND its query to see how they compare and contrast, which I think will give me that much more to go off of when analyzing the descriptions.  I feel like going straight to the map and its query is skipping a few steps, and canceling out options before exploring them properly.

It became clear after taking Steve’s course, and meticulously going over this study with Jon and Greg, that it’s tricky to design a solid research study…I guess I’m playing it safe and trying to cover all my bases.  I hope I’m not wasting time, as I’m pretty positive the descriptions gathered without the matching queries will be vague, but I want to avoid making assumptions if I can.

Nevertheless, the presentation went well and ignited some great discussion.  My extreme fear of presenting thanks the IACG group for keeping it casual and more of an open forum…if only they could all be like that 😉

* The areas that I HAVE been able to find great research in are cartography, describing basic static images, and directional-based map accessibility.