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BlindConfidential: Blind Advocates and Executives

June 1, 2007 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In his post, Blind Advocates and Executives, Blind Christian states in part:

In Darrell’s post, he suggests that two thirds of all AT executives should also be users of the products.  Referring back to the post I did the other day about the need for multiple screen readers, I’m not sure that this would be possible in a relatively complex business like FS or Humanware.  There are zero accounting programs that work properly with a screen reader, thus a CFO and/or comptroller could not also be a blind person.  Virtually none of the human resources software packages work properly with screen readers, nor do most enterprise solutions, project management tools, drawing and diagram programs, etc.  Until the tools that executives need to use are made accessible, blind people are virtually locked out of many senior management jobs.  Thus, I think that two thirds of senior management might be an ideal but I doubt sophisticated investors like those that own Freedom Scientific and Humanware would trust blinks to do the jobs that their own products cannot provide access to.  

He makes an excellent point, but I must ask the critical question: Why aren’t those tools accessible? Yes. Part of the responsibility should rightly fall on the mainstream developers of the tools. All the same, accessibility is a meet-you-halfway process. The screen reader makers also need to step up to the plate and put some serious effort into improving the accessibility of some of this software. It is wonderful that our major blindness assistive technology vendors are working hard to attain and enhance access to Internet Explorer, Office 2007, Windows Vista and other high-demand mainstream products. Unfortunately, access to those programs just isn’t sufficient to perform the duties of most jobs. In addition to accounting, finance, project management and scientific applications, we also need our blindness assistive technology developers to be working hard on access to AJAX, Silverlight and other “Web 2.0” technologies. If we don’t start seeing access to these technologies coming very soon, we risk falling further and further behind. If it hasn’t already happened, we will soon see the day when blind people are losing their jobs due to something like AJAX!

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One opinion on “BlindConfidential: Blind Advocates and Executives

  1. Right and if our assistive technology vendors don’t soon start producing results with regard to things like ajax and silverlight and of course the lack of access to the other types of products mentioned above will combine with it to take away their jobs too! The road only goes so far doing nothing and raking in the money for little to no results. When the technology no longer does anything useful in the current world what the hell is going to be the use in anybody paying for it? As for the companies sitting back and sucking the cash cow of the government agencies that road will deadend too when it becomes clear that they spend thousands on this and it achieves nothing. I strongly believe that ajax and silverlight are going to put us back 20 years in web access in a flash. They basically render the virtual cursor and MSAA mode and whatever else you call it useless. So with all of this at risk what are we seeing from our AT companies? We see what appears to be ignoring the issue and resorting to stupid law suits to keep their pockets fat. It’s time to stop playing boolshit games and start focusing on the problems that the technology needs to be solving.

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