We here at the Blind Access Journal urge everyone to follow our lead by making a donation to the Red Cross to provide disaster relief to the victims of the recent Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and elsewhere in the affected area. Let’s show how we as blind people can actively participate in society by making a critical contribution to the relief efforts.
When we ask companies in the electronics and information technology industries to become more accessible, all we ultimately expect them to do is follow these three basic steps:
- Take us seriously. Grant sincere, thoughtful consideration to requests for accessibility.
- Seek input from the blind community.
- Take reasonable steps to implement positive changes resulting from the input so we the blind can equally participate in the world around us alongside our sighted peers.
Karen has been experiencing serious technology problems after an upgrade of her computer hardware and operating system at work last week. She has been visibly upset over the consequences the lack of access to an important work related application has caused to her ability to perform the duties of her job. Some of her coworkers have asked her if she is having relationship problems. When she told our friend Tina about the issue, she replied with the following hillarious response.
Hey there, Karen,
ROFL about the relationship problems, particularly the human and canine variety,
definitely not problems there!
Hey, tell whoever might ask about that kind of thing, that you’ve got a big and
serious problem going on in your love/hate relationship with your work computer!
It recently underwent an operating system transplant, and since the computer is
experiencing treatment resistent communication difficulties in the area of
output, particularly when dealing with blind people, neither you nor your
computer are adjusting very well to the current situation. It’ll need an
adaptive technology therapist, versed in the special needs of blind humans and
sight-oriented computer output systems, to come in and work with you two, both
individually and as a couple, to assist in resolving
your current issues with one another. LOL LOL!
If, after appropriate evaluation and intervention, your computer is unable to
manage its own adaptive communication behavior, a special team will convene to
draw up an Individualized Output Program, (IOP), with specific and measurable
goals and objectives to assist this computer with a potential communication
disorder, to interact in a more positive, socially and vocationally appropriate
manner with blind end-users in the workplace setting.
I decided to try Google’s new instant messaging and chat application. Sadly, like most new software, my first impression is that it is rather inaccessible. I have just sent the following letter to the Google Talk support team requesting accessibility improvements.
Dear Google Talk Support Team,
I have just downloaded and installed the Google Talk beta. Unfortunately, there appear to be problems for blind users who rely on screen readers. I am not able to effectively navigate the Google Talk main window. There appears to be no basic keyboard support such as the ability to use the arrow keys, tab key navigation and keyboard shortcuts. Please work with your new accessibility team to insure the accessibility of Google Talk by the time of its release as a fully working product. I am looking forward to a prompt, affirmative response to this concern.
Blind Access Journal
Google representatives have told the world they haven’t prioritized accessibility due to lack of feedback. Let’s not make that same mistake now! Please provide your own feedback to the Google Talk Support Team asking for accessibility to the new Google Talk instant messaging software.
Karen’s Workplace Technology Upgrade Nightmare, Google Extends Visual Verification to Comment Posting on Blogger and the Inaccessible iRiver T30
Just another week moving right along for a couple of blind people…
Google has recently decided to implement an option for users of their Blogger service to require visual verification in order to post comments. The idea here is to prevent a problem known as “comment spam” where irrelevant, unwanted and occasionally offensive unsolicited comments are inappropriately posted to blogs, sometimes through the use of automated scripts. Fortunately, the visual verification is turned off by default, but we can surely expect a large share of blogger users to enable this security feature, immediately leaving the blind out of the ability to participate fully in yet another area of the Internet! As long as Google continues to deliberately insist on a visual verification scheme without accessible alternatives, this represents yet another example of the clear and present danger most of these systems represent for those of us who are physically unable to see. Check out the article straight from the source. After following the link in the article explaining the technique Google refers to as “word verification”, note that Google intends to differentiate between humans and automated computer programs. In fact, what Google is also doing with its inaccessible visual verification is differentiating between blind and sighted humans, targeting us for discrimination and exclusion, placing the blind in the same classification as automated computer programs and other nonhuman entities.
Obviously, despite recent incidents of “comment spam”, Blind Access Journal will definitely not enable visual verification. We urge all Blogger users to leave “word verification” turned off so as to avoid discriminating against and ultimately excluding their blind readers from equal participation!