I was fortunate enough to get invited for a visit to Yahoo! Accessibility Testing Lab (in Sunnyvale, California). Victor Tsaran (@vick08) and Alan Brightman (@abrightman) were kind enough to spend about an hour and a half with me and several other computer professionals. Here are some notes from the meeting:
- Learned a lot about Mac’s accessibility features. You can find them under under System Preferences/System/Universal Settings. Apparently they’ve been present since 1985, but most people don’t know they exist.
- Apple computers come with a screen reader VoiceOver, which is now on the iPhone. On the Mac, it displays the text which it’s speaking; a great for blind person to work with a deaf person.
- The demo of alternative input devices and software (including switch devices, head tracking, and an alternative keyboard) really creates awareness of others’ needs.
- Saw a demo of a braille output device. It was noted that this type of device is best for the deaf-blind. They are very expensive, and more popular in Europe as there tends to be more subsidy.
- Issues and features with mobile devices including screen magnifiers, speaking menus, camera-scanner-reader combo.
- Some excellent links:
WebAIM recently announced that their free web accessibility evaluation tool WAVE is now available in Spanish. It’s a great tool for testing web sites, and there’s even a Firefox toolbar plugin!
WebAIM plans to translate the utility to more languages possibly Portuguese, German, Japanese, Thai, Turkish, and Russian. They are seeking volunteers to help; if you are interested, please contact WebAIM.
By the way, you can read a recent interview with Jared Smith of WebAIM from totallyaccessible.com.
Can’t go too long without mentioning WebAIM. They’ve recently made two more important announcements.
Screen Reader Survey
Survey of Preferences of Screen Readers Users
Here are a couple quotes from the article which sum up all the excellent data from the survey:
Perhaps the most significant conclusion we can make from these survey results is that there is no typical screen reader user.
In general, these results suggest that following accessibility guidelines and standards, using technologies that support high levels of accessibility, and providing users with options is of the highest importance.
New WAVE (not the music!)
WAVE (web accessibility evaluation tool) is updated. Below is a brief summary of changes. For more, visit New WAVE Version Released.
- Simplified and streamlined user interface.
- Significantly re-engineered back-end framework.
- Support for internationalization. Initial translations will be provided in coming months.
- Several new WAVE rule
PS: A WAVE Firefox toolbar is also available.
In the blog post WAVE Translation Project Begins, our friends at WebAIM have announced the start of a project to translate their web accessibility toolbar WAVE into several languages beginning with Spanish.
You can help by doing one (or more!) of the following:
- Improve translation of the WAVE feedback.
- Improve the accuracy of WAVE rules.
- Improve the translation of the WAVE site and toolbar.
- Identify WAVE bugs and offer suggestions for improvement.
- Spread the word.
- Be ready for translation into other languages.
In Boagworld podcast episode 130, I discovered that in order to help test web accessibility, Paul Boag wears glasses (that he doesn’t need) and gloves and attempts to navigate through a site. Excellent idea!
In order to better understand [the elderly’s] experience I have bought a pair to ski gloves and some reading glasses (I don’t need reading glasses). Every now and again, I surf the site I am designing wearing both the glasses and gloves. The glasses make the screen hard to read while the gloves hamper my use of the mouse and the keyboard. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to select something from a drop down menu wearing ski gloves!