Archive for the ‘Web Access’ Category

Stevie Wonder Salute: Seriously? Close Your Eyes?

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Last night during the Salute to Stevie Wonder, the host, LL Cool J asked the audience including all of the viewers watching at home, to close their eyes “to share Stevie’s inner visions.” This request which supposedly came from Stevie was right before LL introduced Neo to perform “Isn’t She Lovely.”

As a Stevie fan for life, it’s hard for me to say this but honestly I thought this was whack.

I can’t understand the possible message here. Stevie celebrating the birth of his first daughter wrote this great song to share the incredible feeling of love he had for his child. The genius behind this song has nothing to do with the fact that he cannot see her face. It’s the ability to capture these feelings and put them into words and rhythm we can all feel. Stevie’s genius his totally based on his abilities. The fact that he is blind and had such incredible talent was Motown marketing. It was the obvious way to promote the young artist.

The bigger issue here for me and I’m sure others who advocate and promote the inclusion of people with vision loss in all aspects of society is the act of closing your eyes in no way simulates blindness. All you did is close your eyes.

Blindness is not simply the inability to see, in fact, most people who are blind are not totally blind. The issue that blindness presents is the lack of access to information. When the studio audience closed their eyes, they missed nothing. Host LL continued to speak and fully related the information.

With access to information, money, people and probably anything that each of these brings, chances are Stevie probably doesn’t have this issue. Now again, I need to say that I love Stevie, his music, his activism and his genuine love for humanity. I know he probably meant for something positive to come from the on air exercise.

With that said, I would challenge anyone interested in learning more about the issues faced by people with vision loss or those with disabilities not to simulate what it would be like to have the disability, but rather take a look at things you encounter every day to find the accessibility challenges.

For those taking public transportation, take a look and ask if the method is accessible to those with disabilities. Can a person in a wheel chair get on the bus or train? Chances are that train station either doesn’t have an elevator or it’s out of order. Does that software or web site that you use to perform your job functions, does it work with screen readers or magnification software? There have been improvements but the estimate is that 90 percent of public websites are not accessible. And if you think government sites are better, “Most VA websites Still Inaccessible to Blind Vets.

We’re not done. Out of the millions of people watching last night’s program who closed their eyes, chances are some of them have the ability to employ some of the 50 to 70 percent of the blind people currently under or unemployed.

Last night’s performance was one of the first to include audio description to help provide information to those with vision loss. Big shout out to Stevie for his advocacy in helping to make this possible. Unfortunately, turning on SAP, which carries the description audio, is a process that requires sited assistance for most since the selection is often buried in an onscreen menu. For the record, it didn’t work with Optimum Cablevision in the Bronx where I watched the program.

Stevie has done so much for this world and I selfishly hope he will be blessed to continue for many years to come. I would just like to see the “close your eyes” segment used to start a real conversation that can lead to some much needed changes in how we as a culture view blindness and disability.


Helen Keller Comic Book. Seriously.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The folks at Fred’s Head Companion led me to a new comic book series based on the life of Helen Keller. Well sort of!

Helen Killer, yes apparently this is true. From the site:

At the dawn of the 20th Century, twenty-one year old college student Helen Keller has a dark secret science has restored her lost senses and granted her unimaginable power. Will she use it to protect herself and her country. or will it destroy them both? Thoroughly researched, Helen Killer blends a full cast of historical characters with high octane super-spy action, examining the extraordinary spirit of one of the most inspiring individuals of the twentieth century. Written by Andrew Kreisberg who has written for such tv hits as “The Simpsons,” “Boston Legal” and “Eli Stone.” This is the first fully illustrated book by Matt Rice, a talented up and comer of whom big things are expected.

I haven’t read the comic so this is not a review.

My beef, is pretty simple.

The online version of this comic  book, which features a “super hero” who is blind, is inaccessible to screen readers. What seems to be Flash based cannot be read by the blind community

Did it ever occur to those involved in this project that blind people may want to read the story?

C’mon, the real Helen Keller wouldn’t be able to independently access this information in 2009. The technology is available, but it does no good when it’s not properly used.

Since those involved with this project found it so important to give Ms. Keller her two senses, I thought I would give my two  cents too!

How Are You Using Twitter!?

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

For quite some time now I have been reading and listening to various Tech blogs and podcasts talking about Twitter. The conversation seems to focus on how Twitter can be used for various purposes.


I decided to try it after listening to a SeroTalk podcast on social media. I think I have a way to go before I figure out how or if it would work for me. Am I just trying to be on the bandwagon? Maybe. I do get frustrated hearing about all of the new ways people are putting technology to work and feeling a little out of the loop often because of accessibility issues. Especially since I was once an early adopter.


The NY Times has an article titled "Twitter Is What You Make It." Among other things the author explains that it’s ok to use Twitter anyway you see fit. In fact, it’s even cool not to use it. I know this seems sort of obvious, but I’m sure I am not the only one who feels as though they are being left behind when it comes to tech.


Ahhh, who am I kidding, this post is really just a way to find more folks on Twitter. If you’re on, let me know. Follow my tweets (right now, not very frequent – it feels like I’m talking to myself).

BC Update:Still no response…

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I still have not heard anything from the folks at Blog Carnival regarding their use of a visual only CAPTCHA.

In addition to Lon who is hosting the Assistive Technology Blog Carnival, Penny from the Disabilities Carnival is aware of the issue and I hope will spread the word among other disability bloggers.

Below is this week’s email to Blog Carnival. I guess I will have to keep up a weekly email until BC decides to respond or make the form accessible.

You should be aware that this is the fourth time I am writing to you regarding the inaccessibility of your submission form. This form requires the user to complete a visual only CAPTCHA in order to complete the submission process.

As a computer user who is blind, I am unable to complete the process independently.

Others in the visually impaired and blind community have written to you requesting a change.  Most often, in cases of inaccessibility based on visual CAPTCHA’s, the issue is based simply on an inexperience and ignorance to the problem these graphic only tests cause people who are visually impaired and blind. However, the refusal to acknowledge is sending a much different message. Blog Carnival is essentially saying to the blind community that they are not wanted on this site and the inability to use it is not a concern.

The accommodations that can be made to allow independent  submissions are readily available and have been pointed out by myself and others.

You should be aware that individual blog carnival hosts have been contacted and are planning to remove their carnivals if BC does not respond to the request.

I will continue emailing and blogging on this subject until I hear from someone in the BC management. In addition, I will continue informing current BC customers about BC’s unwillingness to work with the blind community.


WebAnywhere – A screen reader on the go

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

I’m looking forward to reading more about this open source screen reader.


WebAnywhere runs on any machine regardless of what operating system it is running and regardless of what browsers are installed. This is its advantage over existing products like SA-to-Go.


Read more here…