Archive for March, 2006

Adobe PDF document online conversion tools

March 30, 2006

I have always found the Adobe Reader to be problematic. I prefer the Foxit Reader reader. It is small and fast.

On a positive note, going forward, Adobe has made a strong commitment to accessibility. One example is their free online PDF conversion tool (to HTML or Plain Text). They also offer the service by e-mail. Send your file to: PDF to Plain Text –, or, PDF to HTML –

If you need more help with PDF barriers, Planet PDF and PDFzone have additional information.

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Accessibility Language Reference Guide

March 29, 2006

Three Rivers Center for Independent LivingWhat we say influences how we act, think, and feel. By putting people first, rather than their disability, we can begin to remove the attitudinal barriers faced by people with disabilities.

Person First

It is important to identify the person first, rather than the disability, by saying a person with a disability or a person who is deaf rather than disabled person or deaf person.


The terms: afflicted with, suffering from, cripple and victim are all considered unacceptable because they emotionalize and sensationalize disability in a way that induces pity. The term handicapped is based on the image of a person with a disability on the street with a cap in their hand, begging for money, which implies that this is all that they are capable of. Except when citing laws, regulations, or environmental conditions such as stairs, (ex: the stairs are a handicap to her) use disability instead.

Wheelchair Use

People are not confined to their wheelchairs; they use them for mobility. Say he or she uses a wheelchair, NOT wheelchair bound or confined to a wheelchair.


Refers to total loss of vision. Partial vision may be referred to as partial sight or visual impairment.


Refers to total loss of hearing. A person with partial hearing may be referred to as hard of hearing, or as having a hearing impairment.


Person who cannot speak is the preferred term for describing individuals who are non-verbal. Terms such as deaf-mute and deaf-dumb are degrading terms. They also imply that if someone is deaf they must also be stupid. The inability to speak does not indicate intelligence.

Congenital Disability

This is a disability that has existed since birth. Do NOT use the term birth defect. Defect is derogatory and is not a synonym for disability.

Learning Disability

Refers to a condition affecting the understanding or use of spoken and/ or written language.

Mental Health Disability

Describes any of the recognized forms of psychiatric conditions, mental illness, or emotional disorders. Terms such as neurotic, psychotic, and schizophrenic are libelous labels.

Developmental Disability

Describes mental or physical impairment, that occurs prior to the age of 22, resulting in substantial functional limitations. DO NOT use labels such as retard, moron, and mentally defective or deficient.

Speech Impairment

Describes the condition of having limited or difficult speech patterns.

Media Portrayals

Often news stories contain phrases such as "overcome her disability" or "in spite of his handicap". These terms inaccurately reflect the barriers people with disabilities face. They do not succeed in spite of their disabilities in as much as they succeed in spite of an inaccessible and discriminatory society. They do not overcome their disabilities so much as they overcome prejudice.

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March 27, 2006

By Alan Runyan – The Plone BLOG – An attempt to bridge speech-to-text with podcasting for the visually impaired.

Speechcasting, ability to dynamically generated podcast's of latest updates on a website using text-to-speech technology. I am naive about how visually impaired persons work with the internet. Several years ago I watched a blind person use Plone at a Snow Sprint — it was one of the most moving events in my life. The fact that Plone, which has been accessibility minded for years was usable with brail keyboard and the user could create new content types and work with the user interface was awe-inspiring.   (more…)

New software tackles colorblind challenges

March 19, 2006

By Brian Bergstein – The Associated Press via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – BOSTON — Like many colorblind people who have adapted all their lives to a particular way of seeing things, Harry Rogers says his inability to discern red and green hasn’t caused him much trouble over the years.

Even so, there is one particular challenge: Making sense of charts, graphs and other colorful material on his computer screen. Sometimes he sees a weather map online and says to himself, “Is it raining or snowing there?”

And so the 48-year-old electrical engineer was eager to try eyePilot, a new program that gives colorblind people several ways to filter multichromatic images on their computer screens.   (more…)

FOSS community, disabled users must learn to communicate

March 18, 2006

By Marco Fioretti – NewsForge – Accessibility is an increasingly important issue for free and open source software (FOSS) developers and advocates. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed standards for ensuring that software is accessible to people with disabilities. Governments around the world often require that software procured for public use must meet or exceed accessibility standards. Disabled users and the FOSS community, however, still have a serious communication problem. (more…)

Call for disabled internet revolt

March 10, 2006

Being nice has achieved little – – By Mark Ballard – The Register – The Disability Rights Commission plans to call upon disabled internet users to rise up against inaccessible website owners and help it take complaints with the force of law.

The rabble-rousing message will be broadcast by the DRC following the launch of new guidelines to amend what it says are limitations in the WAI accessibility standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium . (more…)

New standards for website access

March 8, 2006

BBC NEWS | Technology – Geoff Adams-Spink, BBC News website age & disability correspondent – New guidelines on how to make websites more user-friendly for disabled people have been developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI).   (more…)

Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 78 – Launch Event

March 8, 2006

Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 78 – Guide to Good Practice in Commissioning Accessible Websites’ PAS 78 Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 78 has been developed by the Disability Rights Commission (DRC) in collaboration with BSI. This PAS outlines good practice in commissioning websites that are accessible to and usable by disabled people.  (more…)

Microsoft researching ways to help illiterate use computers

March 6, 2006

By Allison Linn – The Associated Press – REDMOND, Wash. – Can someone who doesn’t even know how to read or write use a computer? Microsoft Corp. is probing that question at a research lab in India.   (more…)

IE6 ActiveX changes affect MSAA

March 1, 2006

Microsoft has changed the way Internet Explorer 6 (using updated Windows 2003 or XP) loads embedded ActiveX controls. The update is Microsoft’s reaction to a patent suit it lost to Eolas Technology and the University of California.   (more…)

Computer Technology Opens a World of Work to Disabled People

March 1, 2006

By DAVID S. JOACHIM – NYT – For 24 years, Pamela Post, a victim of a panic disorder called agoraphobia, has been afraid to leave her house. She managed to find work for a time, at a company partly owned by a man who also had a panic disorder. He gave her a private office in a house, to make her feel at home and to shield her from the office bustle that could bring on attacks. But three and a half years into the job, even those accommodations were no longer enough. Her husband left her, and her 19-year-old daughter, who drove her to work, married and moved out. (more…)