Disability Education Network (DEN) List
To facilitate communication between staff across the Region an email listserver, 'den-list', has been established.
To subscribe go to http://mailman.newcastle.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/den-list, or see below.
DEN is the framework established in 2000 by the Hunter/Central Coast NDCO to facilitate the creation of a cross-sectoral forum of staff from schools, Vocational Education and Training, universities, employment services, and post-school services responsible for supporting students and people with a disability, or ongoing medical condition, throughout their studies or into their chosen pathway. A listserver, 'den-list', has been established to support the Network and to encourage communication between staff.
DEN is a service for professionals working directly with students and people with a disability, or who have an interest in disability issues, and who are located in the Hunter and Central Coast Regions of NSW.
There is no requirement to apply for DEN membership and there are no fees payable. All staff (or each school) automatically receives ongoing information from the convenor of the Network through the email list following their request for subscription through the NDCO, or through using the link above to self-subscribe.
For more information contact the NDCO.
There are many advantages to joining an email list:
- have regular contact with colleagues from each sector
- have access to accurate and comprehensive information when assisting students plan their post-school options, as well as immediate contact with relevant staff who can assist in this process
- access a diverse membership when assisting people with a disability move forward
- keep up to date with issues occuring in our area of work
- find out about meetings, activities, conferences and so on first hand
- source out equipment or resources, and
- get answers to problematic issues almost immediately from experienced colleagues regionally and from overseas
The following information provides details on how to subscribe, how this particular listserver operates, and general details on the protocol of list use.
Frequently Asked Questions
'Den-list' was created by the Newcastle-Hunter NDCO in 2000 specifically for staff within the Hunter and Central Coast Regions of NSW and is a 'closed' list. This means that only subscribers can post messages to the list. However, the subscription process is 'open' to allow staff (and interested colleagues) to self-subscribe from their own computers, which is then approved by the NDCO. As the list became more active, we accepted requests from interstate and overseas colleagues to join as well.
Staff can send their email address to the NDCO to be subscribed. Alternatively, you can subscribe and unsubscribe by going to the following webpage http://mailman.newcastle.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/den-list (it includes instructions on what to do). You can also view archived 'den-list' messages from this webpage.
If this process is a little daunting, the NDCO is happy to complete the subscription for you - just ring (02 4921 8844), send a fax (02 4921 6939), or send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once a person has been advised (by the server) that they are subscribed to 'den-list', they can begin participating in discussions by sending a message (asking a question or initiating a topic) to email@example.com. The posting is then forwarded automatically to all other subscribers. 'den-list' is also set up so when subscribers REPLY to postings received from the list, the response goes only to the sender. (I've seen some embarassing messages when people thought their replies were private, but they actually went to everyone on the list - hence why the moderation is set this way). If you'd like your reply to go to everyone on the list, choose the 'reply to all' option.
The following information on the use of listserves (and some hints on email protocol) has been provided for your use. The section on 'Responding' is very useful. Please contact the NDCO if you have any queries or experience any difficulties.
The protocol for participation in the 'den-list' has been modeled on that written in 2000 for 'austed-list', the listserve for the Australian Disability Clearninghouse on Education and Training. We hope that this protocol contributes to making participation on 'den-list' a satisfying and rewarding experience.
'Character': 'den-list' has its own 'character', just like any 'real' grouping of people such as a party or a meeting. Lists function best when subscribers respect the character of the list - and perhaps also the inexperience or idiosyncrasies of some of its participants.
Confidentiality: While we don't want to stifle discussion and the free flow of ideas and opinion, we suggest that subscribers should consider the circumstances and concerns of different groups. When describing a real-life situation it is wise to maintain confidentiality regarding the identity of any individuals concerned so that other subscribers cannot deduce who is the subject of your posting. Quite apart from the potential for offending others, if confidentiality is breached legal action could ensue.
Humour/Trivia: There is a place for humour and some trivia on lists. However, it is important that the authors of such material indicate the nature of the contents of the posting clearly in the subject line so that subscribers who do not want to read it can delete the whole posting. A suggested subject line tag is 'Non-disability related humour'. To signal humorous intent in the body of a message, use some sort of stage direction in eg *smile*, *grin*.
DEN encourages people to actively participate in 'den-list' (rather than 'lurking' shyly on the sidelines). The exchange of ideas, comments, and information is essential to the success of any list. If you doubt what you have to say would be of interest or value, ask an experienced friend on the list or the list manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subject line: Always label messages with a succinct descriptive/meaningful subject line. Subject lines such as 'What about this?' or 'Message from me' are nonsensical and out of context, and therefore undesirable. If it is not possible to make the subject of a message clear in a few words on the subject line, it is suggested that subscribers take a line or two in the body of the post to explain it.
Original subject line: If you are participating in a discussion on a particular topic, be careful to retain the original subject line exactly. This assists other subscribers wanting to follow contributions to the discussion as it occurs or later, when postings to the list may be archived for research purposes.
Acronyms: Acronyms and abbreviations make sense to some but certainly not to all readers. However, they often make no sense whatsoever to screen reader machines. DEN suggests that wherever possible full titles should be included or, at least, a number of words which convey clear information.
CAPS: From time to time list subscribers may wish to express a strong opinion (positive or negative) in print. In electronic communication 'ALL CAPS' has been designated as one way to emphasise a point. However, the use of uppercase/capital letters in postings is sometimes considered to be rude - like SHOUTING in people's ears. So, think carefully about the impact caps may have and use them sparingly. It is important that such postings are brief because CAPS are much harder to read than mixed upper- and lower-case.
Formats: When forwarding files it is important to offer a 'text only' format. There are several programs that produce documents that are difficult for many subscribers to access. An example is portable document files, or 'pdf' files, which allow subscribers to read but not to copy the text presented. Other examples of programs that can be problematic are Microsoft PowerPoint and Acrobat Reader. Although there are fewer Macintosh computers in the tertiary education and training sectors, it is also thoughtful to offer files in Macintosh format.
Key words: For some lists there are particular words which should not be used in the first few lines of the text of the message. It is important to avoid use of the words 'subscribe' or 'unsubscribe' in the first seven lines because the server might read this as an administrative command rather than a general posting.
Line length: Try to configure your email to keep each line in the message shorter than 70 characters. This is an optimal length for efficient reading on-screen.
Punctuation and symbols: Using extra punctuation for emphasis can create an irritating problem for subscribers using assistive technologies. For example, where exclamation marks are used for emphasis eg 'This is how it is!!!!!', voice synthesisers will read aloud as follows: 'This is how it is exclamation mark exclamation mark exclamation mark exclamation mark exclamation mark.' Also, be aware that section breaks made up of, say, 'equal' signs and 'emoticons', or symbols made up of punctuation marks (eg 'smilies' and 'frownies') are read very literally by synthetic speech systems and they sound like gibberish too.
Tables: Try to avoid sending documents that include tables because, often, screen reading technology and braille output devices do not translate them in a manner that is meaningful. However, when it is essential to send tabular information, we suggest you present it in a linear format that all subscribers can read. Linear format means there is only one piece of information on each line, from left to right, as compared to that of a table where there might be three or four or more separate entries from left to right. Guidelines for ensuring that tabular information is accessible for subscribers using assistive technology has been prepared by the 'Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities', and is available for purchase from that body.
Topics: It is preferable if postings contain information relating to one topic only. This facilitates easy reading, re-direction, filing and archiving.
Web addresses: If you refer subscribers to a website, ensure that you give the whole web address including 'http://' as this will allow subscribers to go straight to the site by either clicking on it or by cutting and pasting the URL direct to their web browser.
White space: For people who have a print disability (rather than a vision impairment), it is important to present information in relatively short sentences in clearly separated sections or paragraphs. This latter strategy creates helpful white space around each 'idea' associated with the topic specified in the subject line.
DEN recommends that you think carefully before posting a message with an attachment to the whole list. Attachments add to the time it takes everyone to download messages. Further, some subscribers refuse to open messages with attachments out of irritation or for fear of acquiring a virus - so your effort could be wasted.
Accessibility: Probably the most accessible versions of attachments to send are Word or PDF format and 'text only with line breaks'.
Advice: If you want to send an attachment as part of your message and you are not sure about the most effective way to do that, feel free to seek advice from the list itself or the list 'manager'.
Alternatives: Another way to disseminate documents, especially large files, is to put them on a website. The list manager can organise for material to be placed on the NDCO/DEN website. You can then send a brief explanation of the document to the list and give the web address or an ftp (file transfer protocol address). A second option is to post a brief message giving an overview of the document contents and invite subscribers to mail you directly if they would like a copy emailed or mailed to them.
Duplicate: It may be useful sometimes to send two (2) versions of an attachment, or, to enclose one plain text version at the end of the post itself and attach the other with all its enhancements.
Enclosing large documents: Enclosing documents as a way of avoiding problems with attachments may not be so successful with large documents of, say, four or five pages. These may need to be broken up and sent in separate email transmissions. In such instances it is important that each post have an appropriate identifying number or letter in the subject line eg DET Part 1.doc
Graphical images: Avoid sending attachments that contain graphical images such as letterheads. These become large files which will be cumbersome for everyone - and unreadable for some subscribers.
Identify: If attachments accompany a post to the list, they should always be given a meaningful name/title, preferably including a date, for example DEN Minutes 25.12.01.doc
Prior advice: Always include in the text of your message an explanatory note detailing the format/version of any attachment.
Suffix: Give attachment/s an appropriate suffix (extension) such as '.txt' or '.doc' to allow the user to quickly determine the file format (plain text or Word)
VCF attachments: (see signing off below)
Viruses: As indicated above, some subscribers will refuse to open attachments for fear of acquiring a virus. To minimise the risk of viruses being transmitted to other computers, include the text of the attachment within the body of a posting.
The 'den-list' is set up so that, if subscribers REPLY to postings received from the list, the response will go automatically to every subscriber to 'den-list' - unless it is specifically redirected to another address.
At the top: When replying to the list or to an individual, ensure that your reply goes at the top of your posting and not at the bottom. This measure helps subscribers using assistive technology to avoid having to listen to the whole posting again before they find new text.
Cross posting: Sometimes, when people subscribe to more than one list, they might wish to forward material from one list to subscribers on another list. This is known as 'cross-posting', although the term is also used when a person sends the same message to more than one list (and there is a concern that some people will receive it more than once).
'Flames': A flame is an emotionally charged posting expressing perhaps anger or criticism and usually directed at someone in particular but sent to the entire list - a sort of public put-down. Such postings are discouraged on 'den-list'. DEN suggests that, although subscribers may disagree with views expressed from time to time, courtesy and professional consideration should be shown towards other subscribers at all times. Please remember too that facetiousness and sarcasm can be misunderstood easily in electronic communication.
Forwarding messages: Under ordinary circumstances forwarding a message to another person or the list will result in the accumulation of numerous lines of technical information at the top of the posting. These lines can be problematic for subscribers using speech technology because, again, they have to endure a lot of 'gibberish' before they get to the content itself. It is helpful to delete that redirection information, or, if you believe that parts of it are relevant to the message, cut and paste it to the bottom of your message.
In one hit: Try to ensure that the reply is presented in one hit (sentence or paragraph) rather than interspersed throughout the original message, eg. when responding to questions.
Longer postings: When responding briefly to long postings it is better to delete the original message to save other subscribers time and money downloading it again - but first, check that the subject line is still clear and appropriate. If it is relevant to refer to a passage from the original posting, please paraphrase it or cut and paste a brief excerpt in the body of your message.
Relevance to the list: Short replies without context such as 'Great Idea' or 'Me too' intended for the author of an earlier posting should be directed specifically to that person, and not posted to everyone on the list.
Signatures: At the end of each of your postings we suggest that you include a brief electronic 'signature' - perhaps your name and email address in plain text. However, because email addresses are often difficult to interpret, subscribers are encouraged also to include perhaps their school or institutional affiliation and a telephone number.
Quotations: The use in signatures of profound or funny quotations, philosophical statements or social comment is discouraged. Such wisdom or humour soon loses its freshness and it takes up valuable bandwidth and computer space.
VCF attachments: VCF stands for 'virtual card file'. VCFs come as an attachment to every message sent by people who use Microsoft Outlook to create a virtual business card. However, in order to read a VCF, recipients must have the Microsoft Outlook vCard reader software installed on their system. Few people use Outlook and even fewer have the necessary software, so using a VCF is not the best way of distributing contact details. Further, being an attachment, it can be annoying for other list participants. Therefore, DEN suggests that list participants use a plain text signature file instead.
If you experience any difficulties, or have questions relating to the list and wish to speak with a 'person', contact the NDCO, Kay Dean.