These tips are focused on the needs of deaf and hard of hearing participants in virtual workplace meetings
With an ever-growing amount of people using the world wide web, comes a growing amount of people who are being underrepresented by baseline designs, thoughts and common assumptions – a fact that can easily have an impact on both the emotional and physical wellbeing of the user.
As our everyday world moves increasingly online, the digital landscape presents new challenges for ensuring accessibility for the blind. A recent court challenge against Domino’s pizza may be a watershed case guiding the rights of disabled people on the internet, writes James Jeffrey.
The internet can be a hostile space for 15% of the world’s population who experience some form of disability.
That’s why the World Wide Web Consortium, better known as W3C, created the Web Accessibility Initiative. Under this initiative are standards to make sure the internet can easily be used by as many people as possible.
Ubi, the ubiquitous computer, is a hands-free, voice-activated computer that is always on, allowing users to stay connected while engaging in everyday activities. Ubi plugs into a wall socket, can be placed in various rooms around your house, and accesses the Internet through a wifi connection. Saying “Ubi” wakes up the Ubi for receiving verbal commands. Ubi can be used to make a phone call, send an email, search the Internet, or monitor rooms in your home. Ubi can relay information through speech output (it talks to you) or it can indicate information through multi-color lights. It’s internal sensors can detect sound, temperature, light, pressure, and humidity.
An article in the Wall Street Journal explored the issue of web accessibility, accessibility lawsuits and the possibility that the U.S. Department of Justice will issue new web accessibility regulations later this year. The article talks about the 2008 Target settlement, which was the first to recognize that a website can be a place of public accommodation when affiliated with a brick and mortar facility.
At its Google I/O developer conference, Google presented new and improved accessibility tools for its Chrome browser. The extention Accessibility Developer Tools allows web developers to check for accessibility features like alt text for images, keyboard accessibility, color contrast, and closed captioning on video. Google also annouced ChromeVox, an open source screen reader that uses Chrome’s text-to-speech (TTS) engine. Using ChromeVox and the Accessibility Developer Tools in conjunction can help web developers create more accessible webpages. By navigating through a webpage with ChromVox web developers can recognize instances where the spoken feedback does not relay all of the necessary information. Running the Accessibility Developer Tools for Chrome will then point out exactly which accessibility errors are located on each page, and provide feedback on how to fix them.
Australian consumer and disability organizations have begun a campaign to reduce the use of CAPTCHA, the visual tests used by websites to distinguish human users from automated computer bots. CAPTCHA tests are generally not user friendly and they are often completely inaccessible to people who are blind or have low vision. While audio CAPTCHAs are available, many users find them even more difficult to understand. The official web standards body, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), has said CAPTCHA excludes people with disabilities. It proposes several alternative methods of proving web users are human. The “kill CAPTCHA” petition can be viewed at Change.org.