On a brisk autumn day in mid-November, Jose waits for the Columbus city bus with his caregiver, Joshua Cook, associate director of ARC Industries, a service organization for people with disabilities. Jose, whose last name will not be disclosed for protection purposes, is a middle-aged man with vision impairments.
Today marks the seventh Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a celebration of inclusion and digital access for people with disabilities. Microsoft took the opportunity to unveil the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a gaming controller designed to accommodate a range of special needs, and Apple announced that its Everyone Can Code curricula for the Swift programming language will come to schools with vision- and hearing-impaired students.
Versitas is a company that creates and trains people on how to use Microsoft programs. “Speak Cells” in Microsoft Excel is a recently discovered tool in which the program reads the information in each cell for those who have little to no sight. To use the feature, the “Speak Cells” icon needs to be added to the Quick Access Toolbar. There are several Speak Cell commands – Speak Cells, Stop Speaking Cells, Speak Cells by Column, Speak Cells by Row, and Speak Cells on Enter. All, some, or none of these options can be selected, depending on the nature of use. After the desired commands have been selected, you are ready to begin listening to the data in your spreadsheet. Versitas representatives assert that this program is not just for the vision impaired, as it can help with strained eyes and overall accuracy with data input.
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.