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Accessibility for blogs

If you’re interested in accessibility you’ll love Skills for Access. I’ve not had a chance to delve deeply yet but methinks the case studies will be especially useful.

I’ve been thinking. Much of the popularisation of web standards and accessibility comes from bloggers or via the blogging medium, yes?

Do you know what would be a good idea? If someone were to build a site offering free basic templates that follow accessibility standards for the most popular blogging softwares (Blogger, WordPress, Moveable Type, etc.) along with easy to follow guides on implementation plus tips for not then borking them (as I do but am about to change) with missing alt tags and so on. And a forum with knowledgeable members and moderators.

If I knew more I’d do it. Now there’s motivation. Just need the time. But dammit it’s a good idea. Anyone interested in joining in?

Also, it would do A Big Corporation (IBM? Microsoft?) no end of good if they made available a low priced/free screen reading software for testing (maybe following the browsercam model?). Those of us who have never seen one in action would benefit greatly when starting out on the accessibility trail. I know that Apple have built VoiceOver into the new OS, I wonder if Microsoft will do something similar in Longhorn. But that’s too far away.

Update/correction: thanks to a reminder from Neil, Windows XP does have accessibility tools (Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Accessibility -> Narrator). I don’t often get the chance to use XP (I work on a Windows 2000 setup, Martyn hogs XP one) but I’ve added it to the list of resources to check out. If you have any thoughts, let us know!

It’s late, I’m tired, I might rewrite this in English tomorrow.

10 Responses to “Accessibility for blogs”

  1. Neil T.
    May 19th, 2005 08:39
    1

    In Windows XP: Start, All Programs, Accessories, Accessibility, Narrator. It’s a bit basic but it does at least attempt to read stuff.

  2. Eliza
    May 19th, 2005 10:42
    2

    I believe that is a marvellous idea. Certainly one I would consider exploring.

  3. Daisy
    May 19th, 2005 11:34
    3

    Ah Neil, silly me, I’d forgotten about that – it crashes on the XP setup we have here and I’d been meaning to try and sort it out but I rarely use that machine, my main one is still Win2K.

    Eliza, thank you and welcome! I’m knee deep in deadlines today but will switch my blog hat back on tonight and write some more.

  4. Vickie
    May 19th, 2005 14:21
    4

    What an intriguing idea, dear Daisy. I’d be checking it in a heartbeat. Fantastic! ;-)

  5. mary
    May 19th, 2005 15:35
    5

    Leave it to a really smart lady to come up with the obvious, but brilliant idea. Hope you get lots of other bright folks to join you – I’d show up for classes in a wink.

  6. Lyle
    May 19th, 2005 16:12
    6

    Nice idea – must talk to Pix about it!

    As for a forum site that contains help from people who actually know what they’re whittling about (in general) may I recommend Cre8asite Forums?

    It’s not perfect (then, what is?) but it’s pretty good for answering questions and the like.

  7. Lyle
    May 19th, 2005 16:20
    7

    Oh, and if you use Firefox at all, look for the Fangs extension. It basically emulates a screen-reader, so you can see what the output would be.

    Bloody great!

  8. Daisy
    May 19th, 2005 19:17
    8

    Thank you Lyle, I hadn’t come across Cre8asite before, have bookmarked it immediately. And yes, Pix will be numero uno on “hope to get involved” list ;-)

  9. Richard
    May 19th, 2005 23:02
    9

    Apparently, Opera 8 has a built in aural browser. Though I can’t seem to find it in my linux version of Opera, so perhaps it’s only in the Windows build.

  10. pixeldiva
    May 20th, 2005 00:58
    10

    Ah! So *this* is why my ears were burning! :)

    You can download a demo version of JAWS, one of the most popular screen readers, from http://www.freedomscientific.com. It works for 40 minutes at a time. If you want to use it longer than 40 minutes, just reboot and you’re all set to go again.

    It does take a fair bit of getting used to though, but if I can find it, I’ll comment again and post a link I have saved somewhere at work of the most commonly used JAWS commands for browsing.

    IBM used to do a really nifty thing called Home Page Reader, which used speech and had a text only version that it would highlight as the words were being spoken, but they hobbled it with the latest version and you can only access certain URLs with it, which makes it ok for demo’ing what a screen reader sounds like, but a bit pish for testing with.

    Fangs is good for testing linearisation, but it doesn’t give you that unique sense of “what the… ” that you get when trying to use a screen reader.

    As for the accessible template idea, it’s one I’ve had on my mental “should do” list for a while, I just haven’t had the time to do anything about it, so yeah, count me in.

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