Monday, February 11, 2008

Accessibility consulting firm shares insight from Techshare India

While we are physically separated by vast amounts of land and water, there is something to be said when a company in India shares visions of how things should be regarding accessibility here in the United States.

BarrierBreak Technologies
Is an accessibility testing firm, focusing on Section 508 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). They provide accessibility testing, training, and consulting services. They also offer other services relating to accessibility.

Naturally, when they say they provide anything related to Section 508, the company is most likely targeting web sites of American companies, as that is a law specific to our country. However, WCAG is more of a global standard, and in my readings, I find that many businesses not based in the U.S., nonetheless provide their web site in accordance to Section 508 standards, so it has become a standard of its own, even outside our boundaries.

From the initial outset, I found the company web site very easy to navigate with JAWS; Then again, I should have, if they practice what they advertise.

I’m not here to necessarily promote the business, but I’m just glad to see that businesses such as this exist. I know there are others, even domestic, which would keep corporate dollars within our own economy. (I only acknowledge this for anybody who is concerned that I’m promoting outsourcing jobs and funding.)

However, what drew me to the site was a post on their
corporate blog.
In particular, it was a post I read about the
Experience Zone at Techshare India
that I read, which made for some good insight about services and assistive technology the company offers. What really struck me was the blog poster’s candor about her experience interacting with people who had a wide range of disabilities, apparently interacting with several different disabilities at the same time.

Additionally, I was glad to see the variety of assistive technology products that were displayed. Here’s a paragraph from her post about them:
“People were amazed to see assistive technologies such as a Portable screen magnifier from HIMS, trackball, Color identifier from Caretec, Screen readers such as JAWS, Safa, Supernova (Hindi screen reader), simulator simulating different types of visual disabilities etc. There were other products such as a device that would identify the battery life for both visually impaired and the deaf and dumb people, tactile sheets that visually impaired users could use to learn computers, apart from braille slates, pamphlets to learn sign language etc.”

It is refreshing to see people both here and abroad are working towards accessibility. It may not always seem like people with disabilities are making progress, but when I read about conferences such as Techshare India, I’m reminded that we are indeed moving forward.

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