Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Open Source Screen Reader Gives Sighted Individuals a Glimpse into the Blind World

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by Glenda at 11:08 pm on Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Recently I came across NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) – a free and open source screen reader compatible with Microsoft Windows. Not only does NVDA give individuals with visual impairments an alternative to the ridiculously over-priced screen readers, it also provides the rest of us the opportunity to experience screen readers. 

WebAIM provides a quick start guide for using NVDA to evaluate web accessibility. Of course, using NVDA on your own shouldn’t replace including proficient screen reader users from your usability and accessibility testing. But, NVDA does finally give sighted individuals a way to experience what individuals with visual impairments deal with every time they use the computer. For more insights into how individuals with visual impairments use screen readers, check out WebAIM’s comprehensive screen reader survey results.

If you’re up for a challenge, install NVDA and have a listen to your favourite blogs or websites. Feel free to share what you discover in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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What Technologies Do People with Disabilities Use to Read Blogs?

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by Glenda at 3:11 pm on Thursday, May 21, 2009

While having the pleasure of hosting Tuesday’s Open Mic Night, where the topic was accessibility, one question asked was what technologies do people with disabilities use while using computers.

Such a great question! As bloggers, we see our readers when they leave a comment, whether typed or, on some blogs, via audio or video. Sometimes we see them in a tiny graphic or avatar.

But, for the most part, we don’t see how they are interacting with our blogs or what technology they are using. Some are at their home computers, others are on the beach with their laptops, while others are on their iPhones before they board the plane. Yet, others use specialized, and oftentimes very expensive, assistive technologies.

The following video introduces the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 in a fun, geeky way. But it also shows many of the assistive technologies that some of our blog readers may use. Which assistive technologies can you spot?

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Four Parties Contribute to an Accessible Blogosphere

Filed under: Blog Accessibility, Blogging — by Glenda at 11:27 pm on Friday, May 15, 2009

For the most part, when a ‘traditional’ website is developed, a team comes together to complete the task. Sometimes the team consists of the proverbial me, myself and I; other times the team is several people, with potentially an outsider with a specific expertise brought in. Either way, the team works together on the common goal and, when done correctly, accessibility is considered and implemented at each phase of development.

Blogs, on the other hand, differ in development in that four distinct yet separate parties are involved; they very rarely, if ever, come together and work as a team. However, each party impacts a blog’s accessibility (or inaccessibility), oftentimes without even realizing it:

  1. Blogging platforms – such as WordPress, TypePad and LiveJournal – have a double duty in terms of accessibility. First, the code produced by the platform, which is actually a content management system, should meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (or other appropriate guidelines). Accessible code benefits the blog’s readers. Second, the blogging platform interface – the part bloggers use when writing posts and such – should meet the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. Accessible blogging platforms benefits bloggers with various disabilities (from mild to severe).
  2. Theme designers control the blog’s layout, colour scheme, font sizing and such, which greatly impacts accessibility. If designers do not consider accessibility, many readers will be excluded from the community.
  3. Plugin and widget developers create functionality and ‘shiny objects’,enhancing blogs’ interaction and interest for readers. However, once again, if accessibility is not considered when developing these plugins, many readers are limited or restricted from benefitting from them.
  4. Bloggers begin blogging largely to share a expertise or a experiences or to create a voice for themselves. Bloggers blog to create content and to build a community.  Unlike website designers, many bloggers do not have training in html or style sheets. Further, some blogging platforms restrict bloggers’ access to their themes. These two factors limit bloggers’ impact on the accessibility of their own blogging community. Yet, there still ways in which bloggers can improve accessibility.

My goal is to work with each party to increase accessibility within their specific territory of the blogosphere. I’d love to begin with bloggers and to work with them to build the most accessible blogs possible within the constraints of being a blogger.

Here is where I’d love your input by taking this very quick poll:

{democracy:2}

Your input will help me to decide on the name for an upcoming project. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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How POUR is Your Blog

Filed under: Blog Accessibility, Blogging — by Glenda at 2:00 pm on Friday, May 1, 2009

With all of this talk about monetizing your blog and using your blog to generate business, and hence, generate an income, how POUR is your blog?

How POUR is Your Blog? Tips for Increasing Your Blog's AccessibilityFresh from SOBCon09: Biz School for Bloggers in Chicago, my awesome presentation is now available as an ebook!

This free ebook:

  • Defines web accessibility,
  • Outlines four key characteristics of accessible blogs,
  • Provides three ways to increase accessibility with your next blog post, and
  • Lists additional resources.

Download How POUR is Your Blog? Tips for Increasing Your Blog’s Accessibility and discover how POUR your blog truly is. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the ebook.)

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Consider All Disabilities When Making Facebook Accessible

Filed under: Blog Accessibility — by Glenda at 4:16 pm on Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This morning the technological blog TechCrunch announced that Facebook is committed to making the social networking site accessible to individuals with visual impairments. Facebook with work with the American Federation for the Blind.

While I applaud Facebook’s commitment to making the extremely popular site accessible to those particular users, what sucks the chocolate chip of my cookie is that the web accessibility issues facing those with visual impairments get most of the public attention and media coverage. Look at most of the web accessibility lawsuits, for example:

– and the press coverage that followed. These lawsuits centered around vision access issues, and, oftentimes, were backed by associations for those who are bind. 

What about the rest of us with disabilities?

According to stats from the AFB, 21.2 million Americans have reported experiencing vision loss. Yet, According to the U.S. Department of Labour, more than 50 million Americans with disabilities. And that is only in the United States! Why are more than half of us ignored by the press when reporting on web accessibility initiatives?

Some obstacles that the rest of us with disabilities face on the web include:

  • Flickering or flashing designs can cause seizures in people with certain neurological disorders.
  • Without captioning, people with hearing impairments cannot appreciate multimedia content such as on-line newscasts, movies, and lectures.
  • For individuals with little or no hand control, using a mouse can be very difficult. Being required to "click" on a tiny area to access information can be an obstacle.
  • Inconsistent page layout and poor information design can be disorienting and confusing to any user, particularly to individuals with cognitive impairments
  • And the list continues.

Facebook, when retrofitting the site,  please consider all of us with disabilities so that we all may connect with family, friends and colleagues.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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