Another tool in the box

One of my blog readers has given me a fantastic suggestion and something to add to my tool box when on the internet.  It is called WebVisum.  It works with Mozilla Firefox, but not internet explorer.  It has several different options, from hot keys to show all mouse-over elements on a webpage, to a tool that helps you interpret capchas.  I am still playing with this new tool and will add updates as I learn how it works.  In a week or so, I’ll write up a full user experience and let you know how things go for me.

Thanks to Alaa Fareed for this great and valuable information.  It just goes to show how helpful this forum can be.  Please, if you as my readers have advice, suggestions, any kind of comments, I love feedback and learning new things, so don’t hesitate to share!

Girl Techies.

Ok, the title is misleading, these are women not girls, but I had to think of something catchy.  I recently found out about fastcompany.com.  This site is a place for you to go and read and write comments about various aspects of owning, running and working as part of a business.  It provides networking opportunities, as well as a forum to share thoughts and ideas.

Recently, Beth Kanter, an Activist and expert on non-proffits and the use of social media, discussed an Article published by Fast Company entitled “The most influential women in technology web 2.0.”  In her blog post, she lists some of the women mentioned in the article and then adds some new names in a category not discussed.  She listed several women who are influential in technology, but in the world of non-proffits.  Of course I found this of much interest, since Knowbility is a non-proffit, and our Executive Director Sharron Rush is herself a very influential woman in technology, specifically with regard to accessibility.

The Fastcompany site itself is very accessible with great use of headings.  Navigating and finding the information I need is no problem.  I created a free account so that I could share my own ideas and get updates on various businesses and networking groups.  It is free and very easy to create an account.  I’m looking forward to interacting and networking with some successful business men and women on this site.

 

Blind people watch tv?

At midnight tonight, I know of at least one of my local stations that is going all digital and will no longer broadcast an analog signal.  Congress delayed the deadline until June of this year, but some stations are prepared and are going to embrace this new way of broadcasting sooner rather than later.  You can get details and a list of all channels in the U.S that are affected by going to channel3000’s web site.

There has been much debate over how this change will affect TV viewers with disabilities.  Of course they offer the converter boxes that you can hook up to your analog television in place of your rabbit-ears, but some have said that these are difficult to set up, particularly for those who are blind or visually impaired.  You can of course continue to use cable or satellite if you have and can afford that, but what would happen if those services are disrupted?  And it’s no secret that most cable boxes, DVRs and satellite receivers are also very difficult to use if you are blind.  I have long thought that and been frustrated with the menu-driven options that are not available at all to me.  This change to digital broadcasting will also make the TV radio inoperable, something that many blind people use rather than a television set.  So this change could possibly keep people from being informed and yes entertained by television.

One solution could be watching TV on your computer.  I spent quite a bit of time looking for accessible sites that offer TV shows, both local and National.  What I found is that most of the National stations, such as ABC.com are very inaccessible.  ABC forces you to download and use their special player, which is impossible to work with using the keyboard and jaws, trust me, I tried everything.  So any show that is on ABC and nowhere else is not available to me.  Most of the local station’s websites are also inaccessible, or at best difficult to get around.

One site that works pretty well is hulu.com.  Most of the popular shows are available there, but not all shows.  For example, I can watch 24 right from this site, but if I want to watch Lost or other ABC shows, I have to use ABC’s player and website.  However, hulu’s platform is reasonable and you can find and play the available shows using your keyboard and jaws.  WwiTV is another site that you can find stations from all over the world, some of which you can stream directly from their site, but many local stations referenced here will link you to that station’s website, which are most often not accessible.  Of course these sites operate best if you have access to a high-speed connection, which many disabled people do not.

I don’t know what the answer is.  Do you delay progress?  Can this change be made easier for the disabled somehow?  At least there is more than one option out there and maybe through one of them, everyone will continue to take pleasure in one of the oldest past times around.

John Slatin Access U 2009 – are you going?

I am hoping to attend my fourth conference this May in Austin. I’m new to this blog. I have competed in AIR Houston several times and am now on the AIR Houston board. I am the webmaster of the Houston Department of Health and Human Services.  Part of my interest in accessibility is that both my children have disabilities. The first time I ever added accessibility on a web site was when I increased the font sizes considerably on the Agency on Aging web pages. I have learned a lot more since, especially from the classes at the conferences. I hope others out there are planning to attend Access U 2009. The classes are great, but there are also some fun social events. If you haven’t been, I encourage you to consider it.

Twitter is making fantastic strides!

I am very excited to add a new chapter in my social media adventures!  An independent group is working on an accessible version of Twitter!  Many features are still in the working stages, but this is so exciting indeed!  I tried out the site so far and find it much less difficult to read my friend’s status updates.  It is very nicely done and I’m eager to see its completion!