Archive for the ‘accessibility’ Category

Winners announced of the Jodi Awards 2006

April 6, 2006

MLA Press Release: The winners of the 2006 Jodi Awards for excellence in museum, gallery, library, archive and heritage website accessibility were announced last night at a ceremony at the British Museum.

The winners are:

Jodi Award for Excellence:
i-Map: The Everyday Transformed, Caro Howell and Dan Porter, Tate Modern. 

This site does what seems impossible to many people, by making modern art (and its key concepts) accessible to blind and partially sighted people. It is one of the few to describe collections for visually impaired people. The images are highly contrasted and made visible to partially-sighted people. The judges were unanimous in selecting the winning site, which they agreed had yet more ground-breaking qualities and was destined to set the standard in global best practice. The site is already the world leader in making online collections accessible to blind and partially sighted people. (more…)

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…)

Home-listing service introduces accessibility information

February 26, 2006

The Kalamazoo Gazette – By spring the Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors will have a new tool in its Multiple Listing Service that shows the accessibility features of a home.“This will allow people to search for these features,” said Matthew W. Maire, executive vice president of the association.

“As baby boomers get older, it (accessibility) is going to be a bigger issue for all involved,” he said. “There was really nothing we had with our system to address the growing trend.”

Until now, Maire said, real-estate agents haven’t have a way to locate homes for sale that have accessible features.     (more…)

Carnegie Mellon Scientists Show How Brain Processes Sound

February 24, 2006

California Computer News – Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have discovered that our ears use the most efficient way to process the sounds we hear, from babbling brooks to wailing babies. These results represent a significant advance in understanding how sound is encoded for transmission to the brain, according to the authors, whose work is published with an accompanying “News and Views” editorial in the Feb. 23 issue of Nature.

The research provides a new mathematical framework for understanding sound processing and suggests that our hearing is highly optimized in terms of signal coding—the process by which sounds are translated into information by our brains—for the range of sounds we experience. The same work also has far-reaching, long-term technological implications, such as providing a predictive model to vastly improve signal processing for better-quality compressed digital audio files and designing brain-like codes for cochlear implants, which restore hearing to the deaf.    (more…)

Adapting Your Home To Maximize Mobility

February 18, 2006

Work to accommodate disablilities can allow owners to age in place – By Sandra Fleishman – Washington Post Staff Writer – Stephen Bennett doesn’t need a wheelchair-accessible bathroom. But the president and chief executive of United Cerebral Palsy has lots of friends and professional acquaintances who do and says “when I have friends over, I want them to be able to go to the bathroom in my house.” (more…)

Adaptations for Universal Design

February 18, 2006

By Sandra Fleishman – The Washington Post The Americans With Disabilities Act, the 1990 law that requires public spaces to be accessible, does not establish guidelines for building accessible private homes or adapting them. The key, according to design experts, is to make the changes that best suit the person who lives or visits there.   (more…)

John Belluso, Who Wrote Plays About Disability, Is Dead at 36

February 15, 2006

By JESSE McKINLEY for the NYT – John Belluso, a young playwright who translated his own experiences with physical disability into a prolific body of promising work, died on Friday at a hotel in Manhattan. He was 36 and lived in Los Angeles.  


Blind patrons sue Target for site inaccessibility

February 10, 2006

By Michelle Meyers for – Bruce Sexton says he’s one of many blind individuals who can live more independently because of the Internet.

When it comes to shopping, for example, the 24-year-old college student doesn’t have to get to and navigate brick-and-mortar stores or ask employees for help. Rather, with the help of a keyboard and screen-reading software, he can navigate a Web site and make his purchase.

Or can he?

Sexton, along with a blind advocacy group, filed a class action lawsuit this week against Target, alleging that the retail giant’s Web site is inaccessible to the blind and thus violates a California law that incorporates the Americans with Disabilities Act.   (more…)

Blind Cal student sues Target

February 8, 2006

San Francisco Chronicle

Suit charges retailer’s Web site cannot be used by the sightless – Henry K. Lee – Chronicle Staff Writer – OAKLAND — A blind UC Berkeley student has filed a class-action lawsuit against Target Corp., saying the retailer is committing civil-rights violations because its Web site is inaccessible to those who cannot see.  (more…)

Supreme Court Allows Disabled Georgia Inmate to Proceed With Suit Against State

January 11, 2006

By LINDA GREENHOUSE Published: January 11, 2006 – WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 – The Supreme Court, in its first federalism decision since John G. Roberts Jr. became chief justice, ruled Tuesday that Congress acted within its constitutional authority when it stripped states of immunity from some suits for damages by disabled prison inmates.   (more…)

Web Accessibility – An Overview

January 6, 2006

Author: Matt Heerema – Web accessibility is about universal access. It is the idea that any user should be able to access all content on the Web, regardless of platform, user agent, or physical disability.

This is not some lofty philosophical ideal. It is just plain good business.

As with usability, accessibility is not a binary thing. While accessibility checker sites exist, they are only a starting point. User testing with real live people is the only way to know for sure a site is accessible. However, we do have guidelines for how to create Web pages that help us along the path towards universal access.   (more…)

A-Prompt Project

January 6, 2006

A-Prompt Project


Adaptive Technology Resource Centre

January 6, 2006

Adaptive Technology Resource Centre Website: (more…)

Bloor: Usability and accessibility in 2006

January 4, 2006

Peter AbrahamsLogo for Bloor Research By: Peter Abrahams, Practice Leader View Profile – Bloor Research – Published: 4th January, 2006 – Happy New Year and a successful 2006 to all my readers. Having recently set up the new Accessibility Practice at Bloor it seems only right that I should stick my neck out and make some predictions for 2006. (more…)

ASP.NET 2.0 and Web Standards – Using Master Pages

January 4, 2006

Jeff Lynch : ASP.NET 2.0 and Web Standards – Using Master Pages – First off let me start by stating the obvious, “I’m no expert at XHTML, CSS or even ASP.NET 2.0”. Now having said that, please forgive any glaring inaccuracies or omissions in this post. I’m still learning, even at my age!  As I stated in my previous post, I’ve spent the last few months trying to learn web standards “best practices” from various books and web sites dedicated to XHTML and CSS. What I’ve learned is that you can (and probably should) use ASP.NET 2.0 Master Pages to create XHTML compliant web sites using CSS layout techniques instead of tables! Once you get the hang of it, it’s really very straight-forward and easy to accomplish in Visual Studio 2005.


Accessibility / Section 508 with Ajax / Atlas

January 3, 2006

Wallace B. McClure – When people talk about Accessibility, I think of Section 508 and allowing blind/disabled people to use an application. I put this small test of Atlas together for a blind friend of mine to test. It is located here. It seems that the applications runs find and he is able to see/hear the content using JAWS ( So, the question is, what’s the cause of the accessibility discussion with Atlas? What are the issues?   (more…)


December 29, 2005

By Linda Tucci, Senior News Writer – – BOSTON — Beleaguered Massachusetts CIO Peter Quinn has resigned, but the controversy surrounding his decision to adopt OpenDocument formats won’t end with his departure. State officials haven’t indicated they plan to amend Quinn’s plan to adopt OpenFormat standards by Jan. 1, 2007 — a deadline that has advocates for people with disabilities worried.   (more…)

Creating accessible applications with Eclipse: An introduction

December 15, 2005

Hand on Computer Screen illustrationLevel: Introductory Mark Pilgrim, Accessibility Architect, IBM
Barry Feigenbaum, Worldwide Accessibility Center, IBM
Richard Schwerdtfeger, Distinguished Engineer, IBM
Kip Harris, Worldwide Accessibility Center, IBM
15 Dec 2005

from The Rational Edge: This first article in a new series on building accessible applications with Eclipse begins by looking at assistive technologies and disabilities. It then discusses the functions and features that make Eclipse well suited for creating accessible applications on Windows or UNIX.  

Accessibility is an umbrella term that covers everything and everyone involved in making a product usable by people with different abilities. Software accessibility has become a rapidly expanding field that encompasses all of the following:

  • Creation of application programming interfaces (APIs) for application developers that expose a program’s user interface to other programs.
  • Creation and incorporation of assistive technologies (ATs) — third-party software and hardware that hooks into an application’s accessibility APIs.
  • Compliance with the legal accessibility requirements mandated by several countries, including the US.
  • Accommodating end users with a variety of abilities and disabilities.
  • Ensuring interoperability for system accessibility features.

In the US, the primary commercial (versus humanitarian) driver for making applications accessible is a 1998 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act, known as Section 508. Requiring federal agencies to make their information technology accessible to people with disabilities, Section 508 applies to all information technology procurements within these agencies, with certain exceptions (see Appendix).   (more…)

IBM Software for Older Users

October 3, 2005

Big Blue introduces software that makes working on computers and surfing the Net easier for older employees – October 3, 2005 – IBM plans to roll out software Monday designed to make working on the computer and surfing the Net easier for aging workers, with tools that adjust keyboard settings and magnify web page content, among other features.
The new software tools, designed especially for older workers with disabilities, are the product of five years of work by IBM researchers. Big Blue is also looking to tap the world’s 11 million software developers by launching an online resource to enable them to build applications that include accessibility features.

With the software, IBM is targeting the seven in 10 Americans who say they plan on working past the age of 65, according to AARP. Also, two-thirds of the U.S. population will experience some sort of disability beyond the age of 65, according to the U.S. census.   (more…)

A checkup for Section 508

June 21, 2004

By Mike Paciello
Special to GCN

How much progress have we really seen on Section 508?

The Section 508 electronic and IT accessibility amendment is the single most influential disability mandate since the Americans with Disabilities Act came into law in 1990.

But how much has changed since Section 508’s inception in June 2001?  (more…)

Alice authoring software gets video game makeover

By Alan Boyle, Science editor – MSNBC – Sims lend a hand to budding programmers – The Alice educational software uses virtual characters to introduce students to computer programming. At left, characters are shown as they appear in Alice 2.0. At right, the characters are shown as they will appear in Alice 3.0, after Electronic Arts’ makeover.   (more…)