Results from the CCCamp workshop

Transcripts from the Workshop:
As mentioned previously, we held a workshop at a hacker summer camp in Germany earlier this year.
Several participants have asked for the transcripts of the responses we collected, so I have typed them up for you here.

Context for Data Collection:
To provide some context for those unfamiliar with Chaos Communication Camp, it is a week-long outdoor camping event. It is completely run by volunteers and had around 5000 participants in 2019. CCCamp takes place in late August in northern Germany, on the grounds of a former brick factory that is now a museum. This year, that meant daily highs of 35°C while temperatures dropped to 5°C some nights. It was warm during the days, but quite dusty — that explains the frequent mention of respiratory problems.

I’m really happy we got the chance to do this at an outdoor camping event since some of the potential issues that came up repeatedly have never been mentioned while engaging in similar exercises in the standard indoor setting of a conference.

For the workshop, we had participants answer 3 questions.

First we collected them on index cards, and then we discussed the responses. We tried to pose the questions in a way that every participant can contribute. Our goal was to cover many different motivations for attending the workshop.

The 3 questions we asked on the handout:

1. What are your needs?

Do you have any accessibility or other needs when attending events or interacting with people?

Which obstacles do you (or people close to you) regularly encounter in everyday life?

2. What questions would you have as an organizer?

What challenges do you (or have you) faced as an organizer when trying to make your event inclusive?

What would help you more effectively consider the diverse needs of others in your planning?

3. Have you encountered any notable situations?

Share your positive experiences with inclusive planning practices!

Have you organized events or activities yourself?

Which measures to be more accessible/inclusive have worked well?

The Data Provided:
In the following sections I have tried to group the participant’s input thematically, but otherwise they appear exactly as written on the index cards. Most of them were English, the translation for German content has been added in brackets.


What are your needs?

  1. Money is always an issue
  2. Is there public transport or somebody willing to share cars, tickets, hostel rooms?
    • Ether pads? How to organize that?
  3. Need: Low-cost access to events. Obstacles: Often inexistent or poorly/not communicated.
    • Often inaccessible (social stigma, gatekeeping)
    • Sometimes only accessible to in-group, no way for poor newcomers
  4. Obstacle: Lack of a bank/credit card number: Abheben [withdrawing cash], where to pay, many ways to pay = good

Distributing Basic Information

What are your needs?

  1. How can I contact organizers and participants before the event? What are their names?
  2. Kommunizierte/transparente Kommunikationskultur: Wie mit Fragen umgehen? Duzen/siezen? Wer ist wofür die Ansprechperson?
    [Communicated/transparent communication style: How do we deal with questions? Do we call each other “du” or “Sie”? Who to ask for what?]
  3. Obstacle: People using communication channels that have excluded me (FB, IRC, …)
  4. Obstacle: Last minute announcements which assume I’m always online
  5. Obstacle: Lack of phone number (possibly means DECT at camp)

What questions would you have as an organizer?

  1. What is your background? How can I reach/excite you?
  2. Did i do/say something discriminatory? Can I fix it?
  3. Do my signs work, and lead everybody to the correct place?
  4. Did I mention all the details that I assumed? How can people reach out and ask?
  5. How can we do good signs with all the information you need (to start …)?
  6. Help: Don’t change plans after they are initially announced (announce things before event)
  7. Help: Use communication channels that don’t need permission of third parties to join, especially a pay-for 3rd party

Have you encountered any notable situations?

  1. Positive: Events that have direct train connections
  2. Positive: Communicating via a web forum
  3. Positive: Events that announce everything on mailing lists
  4. Doodle for voting: Time&date

Communication Styles, Diversity

What are your needs?

  1. To feel included/welcome
  2. More tolerance for people in need (with needs?)
  3. Not being able to say my opinion because 1-2 dominant persons speak a lot
  4. How can we create a good atmosphere at a convention with people of different political views? (Israel/Palestine at Camp)
  5. Personen die sich selbst vorstellen: Dann muss ich die Hürde nicht explizit aussprechen (duzen, siezen, etc)
    [People who introduce themselves, which removes obstacles (pronouns, etc)]

What questions would you have as an organizer?

  1. Language/understanding criteria
  2. Translation > do you know good interpreters?
  3. If there are conflicting needs, what is a good process to decide which to prioritise?
  4. Reduction of stigma&obstacles to communicate & talk about needs
  5. Where I can find help
  6. Did I provide enough options for everyone?
  7. How is the “Aufteilung” [distribution] of the sex (gender???) of the guests
  8. Need “mentorship”?
  9. How to balance encouragement vs pressure?
  10. How do you deal with people who are not aware of or are ignorant of others accessibility/diversity/inclusion needs?
  11. How to deal with people taking too much room at events?
    (interrupting, constantly asking questions and then answering them to themselves)
  12. Will there be difficult privileged people that need distracting?

Have you encountered any notable situations?

  1. NFC provides sticky ribbons for pronouns, which can be stacked arbitrarily
  2. Ally programme during conferences: For point of access for all sorts of needs
  3. Is there an awareness team and what are the exact names of people for contact?
  4. More prominent conferences start having equity programmes & chairs
  5. A visible clock
  6. Positive: Having an announcement board for last-minute changes in a prominent location on the premises
  7. More and more non-male people attend hacker meetings
  8. The CREW CREW is imo one of the best, “stealthiest” non-threatening all female security crews

Air Quality

What are your needs?

  1. To know weather conditions (indoors as well)
    • Indoor weather: AC, humidity, dust
    • Easily accessible info, info upfront
  2. Non-smoking areas (smoking areas)
  3. Smoke-free zones in all kinds of indoor and outdoor areas, especially queues
  4. Smoke free rooms and entrances
  5. Frischluft
    [fresh air]

What questions would you have as an organizer?

  1. If there are people with allergies or asthma or something else?

Facilities + Hygiene

What are your needs?

  1. Unisex bathrooms, or female bathrooms without a long line (enough bathrooms)
  2. Large bags/trash bins in toilets for discrete disposal of incontinence material, in ALL bathrooms
  3. Are there single-spaced showers?
  4. Non-chlorinated cleaning products and removal of any “smell enhancing” products from toilets

Have you encountered any notable situations?

  1. One event had women* AND unisex toilets, no men’s toilets. Easy to implement, safer space, cleaner
  2. Even distribution of facilities
  3. Toilets with tampons etc and toilet paper and sensitive soap and good towels
  4. Unisex toilets
  5. Are the toilets equipped with stuff like menstrual pads, tampons, deo?

Language, Acoustics, Comprehension

What are your needs?

  1. Obstacle: Imperfect comprehension of the language when spoken:
    • Use more pictorgrams,
    • Announcements multi-lingual
    • Normalize ways to advertise which languages&fluency
  2. Acoustics to understsand the speaker – quiet audience

What questions would you have as an organizer?

  1. Welche Möglichkeiten gibt es beim Veranstaltungsort für gute Akustik? Ggf was kann man dafür tun?
    [Which options does the venue have for good acoustics? What can you do to improve them?]

Have you encountered any notable situations?

  1. Demo in Berlin: Gebärdendolmetscher dabei
    [Demonstration in Berlin with sign language interpreter]
  2. The (sometimes simultaneous) translation of talks @Chaos Communication Congress is pretty well done compared to other conventions

Noise, Restlessness + Resting

What are your needs?

  1. “A level of quietness” not too loud music or too much noise
  2. Space to put myself out of the crowd
  3. Need: quiet spaces in which to regain spoons.
    Obstacle: People not knowing/understanding
  4. Is there some quiet space to decompress/breathe?
  5. Quiet place
  6. Quiet space
  7. Ideas: There should be places for alone time to get out of the crowd
  8. A sign/convention to make sure if you want to talk with s/o or not
  9. Space to lie down when being flop that is not too hot/cold
  10. Screen free rooms (at least not blinking/changing) if I am there longer (e.g. trains, restaurants)
  11. Is there some way to distract/busy myself? When bored, am I allowed in?
  12. Not being required to stay seated during a talk

Have you encountered any notable situations?

  1. Chillout/silent area

Mobility, Accessibility, Travel

What are your needs?

  1. No coat hangers
  2. Cup holders
  3. Find the location: sometimes there are no signs to the location/parking space/registration …
  4. Obstacle: No ramps for carrying heavy luggage or bicycle on promises and on the ways, also for wheelchairs and Kinderwagen
  5. Help with transport of stuff from cars
  6. Need: Seating, not being required to stand for extended periods of time
    (Obstacles: queueing :(, areas without seating, “defensive” architecture)

What questions would you have as an organizer?

  1. What are attendees’ access needs? How do they prefer having them addressed?
  2. Help: Make sure that the location is ramp-accessible
  3. Wie kommt man mit dem Rolli zum raum?
    [How do you reach a room in a wheelchair?]
  4. Visibility: Accessible to sight impaired people with different levels of impairment?
  5. What options has the venue
  6. Help: Choose a location in a place with an accessible method of arrival
  7. Wie reist ihr an?
    [How do you travel?]
  8. Brauchst du eine Kinderbetreuung? Kannst du eine anbieten?
    [Do you need child care? Can you offer child care?]
  9. Child care facilities

Have you encountered any notable situations?

  1. Childcare options/share/areas
  2. Ramps
  3. Designated helper for Philipp in wheelchair
  4. Positive: Taking place on a single level (of a building), with no staircases
  5. At big conference: Volunteer training by people with needs: E.g. blind people told them how to do&communicate guidance
  6. A clear welcome structure/people who gave some thought about welcoming people
  7. Positive: Events that have direct train connections

Food + Drink

What are your needs?

  1. Free water (tap water)
  2. Drinking water available?
    (Taps? Is it possible to refill bottles? Which height?)
  3. Not to be pushed to drink alcohol in social situations
  4. Non-alcoholic drinks (that are not water)
  5. Will the social event involve a lot of alcohol?
  6. Being vegetarian
  7. Lebensmittel bei Tagung/Workshop o.ä. > typische Allergene berücksichtigen: Label, make sure options are available
    [Food at convention/workshop etc > consider common allergens: Label, make sure options are available]
  8. Food with allergenes labeled and with options that are safe to eat for me

Have you encountered any notable situations?

  1. My village kitchen has vegetarian food and soy milk and normal cow milk
  2. Design for extreme groups (vegan for all)
  3. Free water at conference
  4. Einen “Kneipenabend” von Studis, bei dem niemand gezwungen wurde, Alkohol zu trinken
    [Socializing event with students at a bar, where nobody was forced to drink alcohol]

Next Steps

Since this post is very long with the transcript alone, I will let the data speak for itself for now.

We are currently in the process of adding a section for outdoor events for Finding Useful Questions. It will contain both the most relevant issues that came up in the workshop and explanations on how to deal with them. Make sure to check it out!

I want to thank all the participants for joining us, asking questions and taking part in the discussion.
We’ll be back for 36C3, so if you’ll be there come say hi (or poke us on twitter)

See you at Congress for the second edition of the workshop ;)

The next Workshop:
36C3 in Leipzig,
Day 2 (28.12.2019) 14:00-16:00
Lecture room M1

SocialTech @ CCCamp19

Birds eye view on a desk. A stack of worksheets with instructions for the workshop are on the table, 3 stacks of colourful notecards are on top. Each coloured stack of cards contains the workshop attendees responses to one of the 3 questions we have asked them to reflect on during the workshop.

Typing up responses from the workshop.

Today I finished typing out the responses Victoria Neumann and I collected during our workshops at the Chaos Communication Camp 2019.

The workshops were part of our SocialTech project. This one specifically was tailored for an open-air tech event: “Accessibility and Inclusion – Hacking everyday communication practices to change the world.”

Among other things, we were reflecting about our own access needs and potential responses to them. It was particularly interesting to do this at a week-long camping event since a lot of needs (and also opportunities) are heavily depending on the context they are happening in. Since conference-type events are usually held indoors, the contrast between the usual conference space and an open field in late August was striking. Together we identified and discussed both event-specific and more universal questions surrounding the topics of accessibility and inclusion.

A tent that's a makeshift kitchen. 3 illuminated black and purple signs spell out "food hacking base"

The one thing everyone agrees on: everything can be hacked.

I’m confident to say everyone went home with many new ideas to think about. A handful of participants even left the workshop together. In response to one of the most frequently mentioned access issues, they decided to try and write an app for the camp’s card10 badge. I’m really curious to see where that goes!

Campsite from above. A lot of tents in different sizes on a nice day, it is very dusty

The overall mood of the event.

DIRPC 2019

A cup of coffee sits on top of a stack of papers, a laptop and the programme for the DIPRC conference on Angela's lap.

But first: coffee.

It’s real now! We held the first presentation about the the SocialTech project at the Digital Inclusion Policy and Research Conference at the University of Liverpool in London.

It was a great conference, and an amazing opportunity to connect with other researchers, professionals from both the third sector and industry, government officials and students working on the intersections of society and new communication and (emerging) internet technologies.

We got some interesting feedback after our presentation.
The slides and annotations can be found on the project website, but I also want to give a short summary of the current state of the project itself:

The main points we talked about

Text slide. Text reads: Tech Support for Social Issues. Accessibility is a social issue, but often defined in technical terms. Thinking diversity, inclusion, and accessibility together. Communication is creating response-ability Goal: Reach (a broad range of) people.

We explained the project itself, and the question-response format of the resource we are working on.

Text slide. Text reads: Finding Useful Questions: We have been dealing with accessibility and inclusion on an academic level for a while. How to make these topics approachable? Our project that aims to bridge the gap between academia and everyday organizational practice. We want to provide a starting point for those interested in reaching more people with whatever they do.

Text slide that shows 3 stages: Set Up, Play and Rewind. They are connected in a cycle made of arrows, but in a twisted and wonky not at all straightforward way.

This wonky knot is supposed to show how adapting communication practices and having inbuilt feedback loops both internally and with your audience make it easier to react to one’s audience/users/visitors and their needs easily.

We are excited to start incorporating the feedback we got and continue working on this project!

Tactile Test Prints

3 Pages swell paper with maths graphics and formulas on a black background.

The first few pages.

Not much to add to the previous posts, but we have a bunch of actual pages for the braille project ready, and we got some of them printed for testing.

Pages of a tactile maths book, chapter polynomial functions

Close up of the polynomials maths page.

It’s still hard to get the puffed up parts to show. I had to turn the contrast up a bit, but I hope it’s clear.

Some of the pages have been printed in all black on accident – which is the usual mode for tactile pages. While it was a bit annoying at first, it made us aware that we need to be very clear about communicating the intention of the red text, and add printing instructions accordingly.

Close up of a page of swell paper, showing graphs with several different textures

Viele Schraffuren.

Stage 2: Experiments

Now that I understand how microcapsule paper works, it’s time to get a bit nerdy with material science.

Most blind students in Austria attend regular schools, so they will have sighted people around them. This is why we decided to try and make the materials work better for this integrative approach by including the text in schwarzschrift (literally black print, I don’t think this term exists in English so I’ll stick to the German) too. Schwarzschrift here, for us, is red though. There’s technical reasons for that, but maybe I need to explain how swell paper works first.

Pages of swell paper with test lines in different line styles and red writing in different shades that has stayed flat in the swelling process

Testing different shades of red by applying different heat settings.

Close up of swell paper with black, 3D lines and flat red writing.

Now to find a colour that is the easiest to read for sighted people while not interfering with the tactile parts of the page.

The basic idea is simple: Microcapsule paper, or swell paper, reacts to heat. It is being printed on like regular paper, but after printing it is put through a machine (the fuser) that heats paper up using infrared light. When the infrared light hits the printed pigment, the paper underneath the pigment gets hot enough to swell up (It’s a bit like popcorn).

Since the swelling is caused by a combination of black pigment on the special paper and infrared light, changing parameters means it is possible to print content that won’t puff up when put through the fuser. Specifically, red ink absorbs less infrared light and heat and therefore doesn’t make the paper swell up.

So why is this a good idea? Braille has a very low density of information, so one page can fit much less text than it would with schwarzschrift. Space on a Braille page is precious, so we do not want to take up space with text that doesn’t need to be tactile. Additionally, having the schwarzschrift parts swell up would be confusing when reading the Braille and tactile graphics.

A Page of the Pythagoras chapter. It has labelled tactile triangles. The text is available both in Braille and in red for readers that cannot read braille. This is the first finished page from the short test chapter we are using to test the basic design.

If the schwarzschrift text does not swell up in the production process, it can just exist in the white space of the tactile page. Reliably being able to have content that swells and content that does not means we can make the most out of the limited space we have available while still providing all the information for different readers: It simply adds another layer of information that is imperceptible for those who don’t need it.

How to read Braille

Pages of swell paper with different surface patters consisting of dots, lines and crosses

A number of pages with different surface patterns and intersections of lines and patterns

My new design project is interesting. It mostly consists of maths and programming, combined with social research. After that, finally, some layouting and typesetting – but the final product will not necessarily look pretty. That’s alright though, since it’s not made to be looked at: We are working on teaching materials for blind and visually impaired students. More specifically, a graphics catalogue to be used in high school maths education.

A page of swell paper with different styles of dashed lines.

How do dashed lines behave and feel? How much difference is needed so we can distinguish styles by touch?

close up of swell paper with different dashed line styles

It’s hard to get a good picture of the three dimensional quality of the paper.

And this is exactly why I love being a designer: Getting to make things that work, no matter how contradictory the requirements may seem initially.

A page of swell paper with different dot pattern surfaces

Here I am trying to come up with different patterns to replace what would usually be different colours. After creating a lot of “test squares” we had teachers and students test them at the school.

Pages of swell paper with different surface patterns

Pages of swell paper with different surface patterns

I’m really looking forward to working on this project. I have never used swell paper before I was approached with this project, but it’s an exciting material. It makes it possible to create tactile graphics with a standard printer and a special device to actually make the print tactile.

The first step is testing the properties of the material we are working with so I can get a feeling for it. We are closely working with both blind students and teachers to learn the basics about tactile graphics and typesetting in Braille, but also about the Braille system itself.

Close up of swell paper with different surface patterns and line styles

Intersections and Lines that go over what would traditionally be coloured fields are much harder to distinguish in tactile graphics.

Next up: learning how to actually read Braille.