Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Proposal to use Wikibooks for The History of Paralympics

Based on the open textbook work developed at Otago Polytechnic and more recently at the University of Canberra's Psychology Department, Keith and I prepared a proposal to the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) - to use Wikibooks and Wikimedia Commons to produce a text and multi media resource called, The History of the Paralympic Movement in Australia.

When APC called for proposals we immediately responded by way of an open tender, authoring the first to the last word on Wikiversity, and submitting the final proposal as a PDF exported directly out of the wiki. Keith had the wonderful idea to extend an open invitation to all other tenderers, to join with our tender in whole or in part, if they saw particular strengths and weaknesses they could speak to.

Having the proposal openly available as it developed drew incredibly useful feedback, as well as support from potential partner organisations such as Wikimedia Australia. Graham Pearce, a Wikipedia Administrator in Western Australia and someone who does his work via use of a screenreader, offered a letter of support as well as some copy editing over the proposal. It was very reassuring to hear from Graham just how usable MediaWiki is for people using screenreaders. Graham is on our team now, to assist with copy writing, training and support, and to ensure we author documents that are as usable for screenreader technology as possible.

So, we now wait for official feedback from the APC, to which we have a 2 week period to respond before they make their final decision. Our invitation to collaboration still stands and it will be interesting to see if the APC sees fit in encouraging that to happen if the proposals they receive have equal strengths and weaknesses.

The whole process has been a much more the pleasant experience than proposal writing is normally. Firstly, the APC's call for proposals was informative and helpful in framing the need. Rather than proving a template to fill in, we were left to pitch our proposal in the best way we thought how. I would have liked to have produced a video with it (and may still do that).

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