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[ meta ]

  actions     = 'publish'
  id_str      = 'about'
  title       = "About Pete's Alley"

[ meta.refs ]

  f_authors   = 'cat_peo|Rich_Morin'
  f_editors   = 'NA'

[ about ]

  precis      = 'an online resource for the disabled community'

  verbose     = '''
This site is an online resource for the disabled community,
including their friends, relatives, and other supporters.
It will index and review resources, provide communication channels, etc.
For example, you are invited to join the Pete's Alley mailing list
at ([$url]{}).

By way of explanation, although the word "alley" is meant to suggest
an informal gathering spot, it's also a pun on "a11y"
(popular shorthand for "[accessibility]{ext_wp|Accessibility}").
In a similar vein, folks who contribute to the effort
are known as "Pete's Allies".

### Motivation

Pete's Alley is named after Pete Ostrom, an intelligent and adventurous soul
whom [Rich Morin]{cat_peo|Rich_Morin} met in the late 1960's.
Despite Pete's [Muscular Dystrophy]{ext_wp|Muscular_dystrophy},
Rich and Pete went on a number of excursions around California,
typically in a (first-generation, underpowered)
[Volkswagen Transporter]{ext_wp|Volkswagen_Transporter}
with a homebrew (hinged plywood) loading ramp.

In those pre-[ADA]{ext_wp|Americans_with_Disabilities_Act_of_1990} days,
[curb cuts]{ext_wp|Curb_cut} and wheelchair ramps were few and far between.
So, Rich mostly used brute force to haul Pete past any obstructions.
Complicating matters still further,
the wheelchairs themselves weren't very solidly constructed.
For example, because the spokes on Pete's wheelchair kept breaking,
he had to have his wheels [relaced]{ext_wp|Bicycle_wheel#Lacing}
with motorcycle spokes.

Pete would have loved the [World Wide Web]{ext_wp|World_Wide_Web}.
He (and Isabell Ostrom, his very supportive mother)
would also have benefited greatly from today's ever-increasing offerings
in accessible technology.
However, they might have been frustrated by the difficulty
of discovering relevant resources and evaluating their suitability.

Mass-market web sites such as [Amazon]{ext_wp|Amazon_(company)}
list huge numbers of products.
Some of these (e.g., walkers, wheelchairs, white canes)
may be obviously relevant to someone with a particular disability.
However, the relevance of other products may be less obvious.
Bluetooth-enabled cooking devices, for example,
can be very useful to the blind and vision-impaired.
However, they are not marketed as assistive devices
and no mention of this applicability will generally appear
in product descriptions or reviews.

It can also be difficult to find detailed information on resources.
Even when a web site is accessible (and all too many are not),
variations in approach and organization can be frustrating.
Seemingly simple tasks such as finding contact or product information
may take inordinate amounts of time.

The [LightHouse Labs talk]{con_ove|RM_2019_0508_LHL} page
is adapted from a short presentation I gave
at the [SF LightHouse]{cat_gro|LHBVI} in May 2019.
The first part discusses Pete's Alley;
the second discusses [Perkian]{con_ove|Perkian_Intro}
and describes the general approach taken
in [Perkify]{con_ove|Perkify_Intro}.

### Approach

Pete's Alley addresses these issues in several ways, including:

- a powerful, tag-based search facility
- accessible and consistent page formats
- content written with disabilities in mind

Although there are a number of web sites that deal with disabilities,
this site has its own unique approach and flavor.
If you like what we've done so far,
please consider helping us to extend and support it:
contribute entries and reviews for our resource [Catalog]{cat|:a},
along with long-form [Content]{con|:a}:
[Essays]{con_ess|:a}, [HowTos]{con_how|:a}, and [Overviews]{con_ove|:a}.

### Implementation

The web site's pages are generated from a tree of human-editable files,
containing a mixture of structured data and unstructured text.
The online content is loaded (and updated) from this file tree,
indexed in various ways, and converted to web pages on request.
The server-side application code is implemented using the
[Elixir]{ext_wp|Elixir_(programming_language)} programming language
and the [Phoenix]{ext_wp|Phoenix_(web_framework)} web framework.
For more information, visit
[Pete's Alley - Implementation]{con_ove|PA_Implementation}.