JupyterCon 2023

Astronomy Notebooks for All: A Project to Develop More Accessible Jupyter Notebooks
05-11, 15:40–15:50 (Europe/Paris), Poster Placeholder

This poster summarizes the "Astronomy Notebooks For All" project undertaken in 2022-2023 by Space Telescope Science Institute. We are researching how Jupyter Notebooks can be made more accessible through paid usability testing sessions with disabled developers, scientists, and students. Our focus is on the compatibility of Jupyter Notebooks with assistive technologies such as screen readers, magnification, and braille readers. Additionally, we are developing potential solutions for the problems we find that may be incorporated upstream into the wider Jupyter project.

This poster will examine:

  • Accessibility issues with Jupyter Notebooks and how these problems frequently keep disabled people out of careers in data and bench sciences.
  • Our user-centered method of tackling this difficult problem by cycling between paid usability feedback sessions with impacted users and implementation of accessibility enhancements. We repeat this until we create a benchmark notebook built with a more accessible structure to contribute back to the community.
  • Stories of how Jupyter accessibility impacts community members, including case studies of people with disabilities deterred from pursuing careers in STEM by inaccessible tools.
  • Specific problems we have uncovered so far and solutions we have tried for those problems. Solutions will focus on both individual authors and the wider codebase.
  • Our team from a variety of organizations (Space Telescope Science Institute, Iota School, Quansight) with a diverse array of skills used in the project.
  • How members of the Jupyter community can contribute to further work towards accessibility and inclusion in this area.

Patrick Smyth is Chief Learner at Iota, an organization focused on accessible technical training, consulting, and infrastructure development. From 2019 to 2021, Patrick coordinated Columbia's Foundations for Research Computing, a program dedicated to building expertise and community around research computing at the university. Patrick is a blind researcher, developer, and entrepreneur who thinks critically about how infrastructure can create—or lower—barriers to entry in STEM research. In 2022-2023, Iota is working with Space Telescope Science Institute, the center that performs science operations for the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes, on Astronomy Notebooks for All, an initiative to make web-based scientific outputs more accessible to people with disabilities. Patrick is a Fulbright Fellow (Berlin, 2010) and received his PhD from The Graduate Center, CUNY.

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Jenn Kotler is the user experience designer at the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes where she designs data search and analysis tools for telescope missions including Webb, Hubble, TESS, and Kepler, all available for free use. Her design goal is to make data easily accessible so everyone can do amazing science. She lives in a historic row house with her partner, creaking wood floors, a clawfoot bathtub, and a menagerie of mammals

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