Monday, April 21, 2008

ComputerWorld article examines issues that are 'maddening' for blind users

In my news alerts last week, my patience was tested after I saw a link to a ComputerWorld article about assistive technology that sounded like it would be something I would be strongly interested in, but the link in that Google email alert would not load the page. I knew the title and source site of the article, so I attempted several different methods to pull up the page, but none worked. Feeling frustrated would have been an understatement in describing how I felt. They say patience is a virtue, but I wasn’t feeling too virtuous after not being able to read the article.

Finally, over the weekend, I saw that one of my favorite assistive technology blogs,
The Ranger Station
Had the article with a link that actually worked. Hurrah!

After reading this article,
Blind users still struggle with ‘maddening’ computer obstacles,
I realized just how interested in this article I really was. It was definitely worth the time and patience to finally get to read this well written and researched article.

Though it is a bit long, it is a fairly thorough overview of the blind computing experience. The authour has done a good bit of homework, citing several recognized and respected names in the assistive technology realm. It touches on each of the primary issues of concern for most, if not all blind computer users. It begins with an overview of how blind computer users go about navigating the screen, but then delves into problematic issues such as evolving operating systems, inaccessible “inhouse applications” which can cause an employment roadblock, web content, and that blasted, inaccessible CAPTCHA problem which continues to linger. The article even touches on smart phones and the inaccessibility of touchscreens on devices such as the iPhone.


Ruth said...

A very thought provoking article. Our web designer is doing some testing today with disabled students, some visually impaired, some dyslexic. Although none use screen readers, it's a good opportunity to see what they think of the website.

I feel sometimes, that there is an emphasis on how the information looks on the website and not what the information is and that everyone should have access to it. We get terribly hung up on appearances in all walks of life and tend to forget the practicalities.

Ron Graham said...

Thanks for your on-going comments, Ruth. I appreciate your thoughts and input.

It is definitely good that your webmaster is seeking input from students with various disabilities. I’ve done the same on several occasions with my alma mater.

I agree about the tendency to lose the idea that purpose of a web site is to convey information. Yes, asthetics are important, but if you lose the message, then you have to ask what you have really accomplished.