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Sirius Finally Gets Serious About Allowing Blind People to Listen to the Radio

June 28, 2006 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

In response to my recent attempts to initiate positive dialogue with Sirius Satellite Radio concerning their visual verification scheme, Patrick Reilly, the company’s Senior Vice President of Communications, reported that the issue was resolved on Tuesday night, June 27, through the implementation of an audio CAPTCHA. In answer to Mr. Reilly’s query, Senior Web Producer Brock Boddie wrote the following:

Audio CAPTCHA was launched last night. A sight impaired user using a screen reader should now be able to log into our media player. If one is to click on the speaker image next to the field that says “enter the text as shown in the box below”, they should hear a sequence of numbers that should then be entered into the aforementioned text field. The audio CAPTCHA will not match the image, but it will grant a user access to the player if entered correctly.

We appreciate the prompt responsive action on the part of Serius Satellite Radio to once again allow its blind and visually impaired customers access to the company’s online services. We hope and expect that other companies will follow examples such as this by providing accessible alternatives to visual verification on web sites and that web developers will proactively consider the impact of these schemes on customers with disabilities by building in appropriate accessibility accomodations at the beginning of the design process rather than as an after thought in response to strenuous, persistent advocacy.

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Blank Messenger History, trouble with edit fields in HTML forms mode and other JAWS quirkiness with Windows profiles.

June 26, 2006 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

For quite some time now, I have been dealing with a couple of perplexing, intermittent JAWS issues. First, edit fields in web pages were blank when in forms mode. The text could not be read with the arrow keys, text selection was not spoken and it was impossible to edit using backspace, delete, etc. This problem was becoming critical, as it reared its ugly head in a web based application on which I rely on a daily basis to perform the duties of my job. Second, the message history area of MSN Messenger and Windows Live Messenger was totally blank. Not only was it impossible to read the text using the arrow keys with the PC cursor active, but the text was also absent when reading with the JAWS cursor. These two problems were quickly becoming a source of frustration, so I began a serious effort to resolve or work around them.

After various unsuccessful trial and error procedures, including deactivating my video card’s diagnostic service and enabling “use legacy Internet Explorer support” in the JAWS 7.1 configuration manager, I found the culprit in the way JAWS seems to handle logging in to and out of Windows profiles. Since I telecommute, I use the same desktop computer for both personal and work related activities. I keep these relatively separated through the use of separate Windows profile accounts for home and work use. Switching between these profiles is typically a matter of simply opening the Start menu, choosing Log Off and selecting the desired profile from the list. This seems to work well with JAWS on the surface, except for the presence of these significant caveats. The unfortunate work around is to switch profiles by restarting the computer. Restarting the computer requires a great deal more time than simply logging off one profile and logging on to another.

The question is, what is the root cause of these issues? Is this just one more quirk observed when running JAWS as a service? Is the problem one of transitioning between system and user space? Has anyone else experienced this issue or similar difficulties? I would be interested in your opinions or other potential work arounds.

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Duplicated Wedding Toast Show

June 24, 2006 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Many of you may have received three copies of the wedding toast episode. There was a Blogger error last night that caused two copies of the post to publish without appearing in the back end database. When the blog was republished this morning, both posts disappeared, requiring me to post yet a third copy. This copy was published properly. We apologize for the inconvenience and wasted disk space this caused. You may also notice that, despite the lack of any introductory content from us, the wedding toast show was episode 108 of the podcast. All the best to you all on this Saturday.

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Wedding Ceremony of Karen and Darrell

June 20, 2006 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker


As many of you already know, Karen and I became husband and wife on June 3, 2006. We apologize for the long delay, but we are proud to finally bring to you audio coverage of our wedding ceremony. We were married at approximately 7:00 PM aboard the Odyssey in Boston, Massachusetts. Stay tuned for additional coverage including portions of the wedding reception and our San Diego honeymoon trip.

Download and Listen

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Sirius Satellite Radio Erects A "No Blind People Allowed" Sign

June 14, 2006 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

We have just learned that Sirius Satellite Radio has implemented an inaccessible CAPTCHA for their online service. This CAPTCHA is required not for initial registration, but for each log in to the service. This CAPTCHA makes the service completely useless to the blind. This action results in a total lock out of blind and visually impaired customers from a service, listening to audio content, they ought to be able to inherently enjoy without barriers. We urge all Sirius Satellite Radio subscribers to call 1-888-539-7474 insisting that the company implement an accessible alternative to CAPTCHA or remove it altogether while seeking a better solution.

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