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Apple to Make iTunes Fully Accessible

So instead of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) having to sue the computer giant, Apple has agreed to make its dominant iTunes software accessible by next year. Here’s a link to the press release from the NFB:

National Federation of the Blind and Commonwealth of Massachusetts Announce Agreement with Apple to Make iTunes Fully Accessible

Apple will make iTunes U (a dedicated area of the iTunes Store for content provided by colleges and universities) fully accessible by December 31, 2008, and will ensure the full accessibility of the iTunes software and the rest of the iTunes Store to blind people using both Mac and Windows operating systems by June 30, 2009.

Also, it seems that the iPod is not accessible. Only the newly released iPod Nano (generation 4) has accessibility features such as spoken menus and high contrast screens.


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Why Captioning Sucks

As you may know, captioning is required for accessible audio/video presentations. The Open & Closed Project (from Joe Clark) explains the downfalls of captioning on the new web site Captioning Sucks! Reasons cited are as follows (and you’ll have to go to the site to fully understand!):

  • Not enough of it
  • They don’t listen
  • It’s hard to read
  • The wrong kind
  • The fox is watching the hen house
  • There are no standards
audio caption flash

CNET TV Now Captioning

CNET TV is now captioning its Flash video using the DFXP caption support in Flash CS3. It’s quite a slick implementation (select the CC icon). View Tech Predictions for 2008 for an example. This technique is mentioned in Web Axe’s Podcast #53: Interview with Andrew Kirkpatrick, Adobe’s leading accessibility guru.

audio podcast

Podcast #59: Jeffrey Frey on Accessible Podcasts

Dennis speaks with Jeffrey Frey and discusses accessible podcasting, guidelines on audio/video web accessibility, and Jeff’s role at Rice University.

Jeff is the Web Services Manager for Enterprise Applications in the Information Technology Department at Rice University. He provides technology solutions for faculty, staff, and students on campus as well as teaches new technology courses at the School of Continuing Studies. He is available for podcasting consulting, is involved in the creation of podcasts for businesses and non-profits, and has owned a technical consulting company and an audio/video recording studio.

Download Web Axe Episode 59 (Jeffrey Frey on Accessible Podcasts)
[Transcript for podcast 59]

Links from Jeffrey Frey’s Blog

Transcription and other related services

From Tom Brinck

Like myself, Tom is from Michigan but now works and lives in the Bay Area in California.

audio podcast screenreader

Podcast #58: Aural Style Sheets

Dennis and Ross explain aural style sheets, a nifty part of CSS2.

Download Web Axe Episode 58 (Aural Style Sheets)

News & Announcements

What are Aural Style Sheets?

A way of controlling speech synthesis and auditory icons with CSS2, usually through a screen reader.

H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 {
voice-family: paul;
stress: 20;
richness: 90;
cue-before: url("")

Supported by: Emacspeak, Fonix SpeakThis, and the Opera Browser


  • More control over how screen readers will render your documents
  • Also beneficial for those who want your content in a mobile manor (on the road, exercising, almost podcast-esk)
  • Near future, more devices may access internet that you may want read, such as car

Example: Speak-numeral element

digits: a string of numbers is spoken as a whole number (123 = one hundred twenty-three)

continuous: numbers in a string are read successively (123 = one two three)


  • volume
  • speak
  • pause
  • cure
  • play-during
  • spacial elements (ways to have two voices appear from different areas)
  • voice character
    • speech rate
    • voice family
    • pitch
    • pitch-range
    • stress
    • richness
  • speak-punctuation
  • speak-numeral