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Google Enables Manual Account Creation for the Blind, Takes First Step in the Right Direction Toward Visual Verification Accessibility

March 16, 2006 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

It is now possible for blind and visually impaired Internet users who are unable to pass visual verification to create a Google Account by completing a special form and replying to an e-mail. Turn around time is reported to be 24 hours or less. Though incomplete, this move represents Google’s first step in the right direction to address the inaccessibility of their visual verification. As cited in an article entitled Google Struggles with Accessibility as Services Expand as recently published in Voice of the Nation’s Blind, the online magazine of the National Federation of the Blind, Google promises that an audio playback solution will be in place by the end of April. While we anticipate the implementation of a means to independently complete their visual verification, we must not reduce our pressure on Google to do the right thing until the ultimate goal has been realized. Anyone who hasn’t already done so is asked to sign the Google Word Verification Accessibility Petition today!

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2 opinions on “Google Enables Manual Account Creation for the Blind, Takes First Step in the Right Direction Toward Visual Verification Accessibility

  1. Hello Darrel.
    I am watching this google thing with intrest and I am happy to see google is atleast responding finally after a years work.
    Can I bring to your atention another matter that may affect those in the blind community who want to seek jobs and training courses in Audio production.

    I am sure you are very aware that software published today for the use of multitrack recording is for the most part anywhere from nonaccessable to half way accessable. The program protools whitch is a high profile recording program widely used in recording studios today is not usable with any screen reader program on the market today, Mac or pc.
    The other software whitch I think is next in line is a program called, Adobe Audition.
    This program has taken a step backward and is not really that usable any more.
    Parts of the program can be accessed while other areas of the program are not easily accest if accessable at all.
    Due to no access to these programs, this locks the young blind person out of a possible opportunity to take training in this line of work much less get a job as a recording ingineer.
    It is just sad that this avenue is just bascly cut off because of no access to particular programs.
    It seems funny but more often than not, in a particular industry, the program most widely used in that industry just always seems to be inaccessable to the blind computer user?
    So is the situation with Protools for windows xp.
    We won’t even mention the mac and how the voice over program works with the mac version of protools except just to say that it doesn’t work.
    I wonder if you could make this known and those who do fool around with recording software to any degree can help possibly get some type of potition up to send to the makers of protools and Adobe addressing the lack of accessability and request or demand that these authors of these programs atleast make the controles on the screen standard so that the screen readers can read them.
    Sumthing needs to be done in this area.
    I just hate to see a possible opportunity for blind people to get into recording and production simply because there screen reader won’t read the screens of these top programs that I think a lot of recording ingineer training schools use.

    I know we can’t walk into a studio or a company and show them a deploma from a school and then ask them can we use Cake Walk or some other program so we can have the job.
    That just don’t work.
    I hope to get some kind of responce because I do worry about this problem a lot and sumthing needs to be done.
    What we need is Ideas and action from those people who are in this line of work and who want to get into this line of work.
    Tracy Son.

  2. In reply to Tracy Son,

    I have long fantasised about becoming a sound engineer, but I whole-heartedly agree with you; the software is quite inaccessible. The software that I am using – and I am using it but for personal work, and work destined for friends – is Sound Forge. This is accessible enough that I can do most of what I need to do; that is to say, basic editing, noise reduction, recording, and so forth are possible, though in no way convenient, whereas other jobs, however, such as equalisation, monitoring levels, and, most particularly, analysing and manipulating an audio file at the sample level, are hopelessly impossible.

    A lot of these things are, regrettably, extremely visual, and it would require much creativity in order that a solution should be made for individuals who are blind. Let us take, for instance, analysing the sample data. As far as I know, this is best visualised on a level-versus-time graph, which the program presents on the screen. There are but two solutions that I can think of. The first way is something that would be easy for the manufactures of the programs themselves to address – that is, to use numbers for levels, which could be entered and manipulated. This would, however, be a horrible thing to have to deal with – nay, impossible. (At least, if it ever came to be, we would be so slow at it that no one would ever hire us.) The second is to use some sort of representation for a tactile graph. The only way that this could be done is to use something like the Pictures-In-A-Flash, or – horror of horrors – a specially-manufactured refreshable tactile display – hopefully something under a million dollars. As for the PIAF, this would only let the user see the graph; there would be no way to interact with it. The tactile display, though a great idea, is non-existent, and there is such a niche market for such a contraption that I doubt that it shall ever be developed. Perhaps this is something that ViewPlus Technologies could address, but I doubt it.

    In any case, the thing that bothers me most is that, though blind people, who use their hearing for well nigh everything, and whose capacity for hearing fine details and nuances is often so much more apt than that of sighted people, should be some of the best people for this sort of job, it is the vision that acts as the barrier.

    Graham Hardy.

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