Jim, an avid Yahoo! Mail premium subscriber, reports that the company’s latest beta is almost completely inaccessible to those of us whom rely on screen readers. True to form, Yahoo! has not yet chosen to respond to Jim’s concerns. Yahoo! has been ignoring our need for accessible visual verification for a long time now without consequence. It seems the blow off of the blind continues with this latest beta. Any additional news on this front would be quite welcome.

I deeply regret having to report that the beta of the new yahoo mail
has been made mostly inaccessible to us as screen reader
users. While it is hit or miss possible at times to route the mouse
cursor and click some of the controls and have them work, it is not
reliably accessible by any means and certainly is not practical to
use in such a state. The technology they are using as of the beta
does not allow the screen reader to work with the controls in many
cases. For example messages no longer show up as a link that you can
activate to open them and there is no longer any checkbox to check to
perform actions on messages. You can no longer even see anything
that allows you to get to any subsequent pages of messages in a
folder beyond the first one. Some of the controls such as folder
names, compose, reply, forward, etc are now on mouse over links which
actually can be manipulated more or less depending on which version
of your screen reader you have. That we could live with. The bottom
line is that yahoo mail has gone, practically over night, from being
a wonderful user experience that I personally have been a paying
subscriber to their premium services for a number of years and it has
been fantastic for my needs to a mostly inaccessible unusable
service. I have written to them via their beta feedback form twice
now. One time on Friday Dec 16, 2005 categorizing it in their
predetermined list of categories as a problem using the product and
also on Sunday December 18 selecting the category of technical
problem. In both cases I spelled out the problem and referred them
to the screen reader manufacturer web pages of GWMicro and
freedomscientific as well as offering them any help I could provide
in determining and resolving the issues. I have not gotten any
response to either message as of Monday morning December 21. I will
certainly let you know if that changes.