Talkr podcasting and accessibility

I’ve had a bit more of a poke round the Talkr.com site and have a few notes.

  • Comments (the best bit) aren’t included, can I add an rss feed for these? Need to find out.
  • You can sign up with Talkr.com and subscribe to feeds of blogs that simply have an rss feed (they don’t have to be signed up with Talkr podcast).
  • The plugin has added the Talkr icon to every post but only recent and future posts will be available. Need to fix that.
  • Accessibility issues.

The main reason I installed Talkr was to get (the lazy man’s) idea of blog posts as they are read by screenreaders. It’s not a true version of course, I’m betting (hoping!) that Jaws and other softwares are more sophisticated than this. But it has immediately highlighted a few issues that we bloggers should start thinking about.

I’m racing against the clock now, we’re off to a birthday party tonight (full of musicians who jam at the drop of a hat, hooray!) and I need to bath, wash hair and find something slinky to adorn my sylph-like silhouette so I’ll just jot down a few notes and come back to it later. Oh and somewhere in the drafts folder I’ve a post about basic steps we bloggers can take to improve accessibility, will someone nag me into publishing it, please?

Back to accessibility. I hate to “pick on” Pam, (especially since she’s one of the funniest bloggers on the planet), it’s just that her blog was the first I subscribed to. Here is the spoken version of the first post that appears in her feed:

This story from beancounters is entitled based on a true story and was published on March 16 2006. The original story included an image with the caption ode at this point.

Eh? The written post is indeed entitled based on a true story but it contains a single image, a cartoon strip. Pam named the graphic ode.gif and uploaded it. TypePad then automatically used the graphic name as the alt attribute, giving us a useless “description” of the picture.

Oh and it’s not just Pam, my archives are full of badly presented graphics that I’m slowly trying to fix.

It really highlights a big issue that we bloggers ignore, mostly? partly? because of the blogging/cms softwares we all use. Why don’t they prompt bloggers to type in an alt attribute when uploading images? I know that WordPress does, Blogsome does but what about others? TypePad didn’t (has that changed?).

Anyway. Here’s the deal as I understand it. All images (apart from decorative ones such as icons that can be placed in the css and ignored by screenreaders) should have an accompaning alt attribute. Alt being short for alternative. That is, alternative text to describe pictures for those than cannot see them. If you’ve just posted a picture of, say, George Cloooney (mmm, yes please!), why not add a few words to describe the picture. Let your imagination run riot! I’m the world’s worst at finding ways to describe pictures but something is better than nothing.

And besides, if you’re interested in getting hits, you know what? Google will love you for it.

I’ll add more links later but Roger Johansson’s article, HTML tags vs. elements vs. attributes is a great place to start.

Back to Pam’s post. I couldn’t have picked a worst one to explain (well, I didn’t pick it, it was the first one I listened to). Not only is the text a bit wacky, it’s written in a fake French accent. My head is about to explode!

So let’s make this a team effort – what could Pam have written as an alternative text to the cartoon strip?

I realise the irony in asking for these suggestions – the image is invisible to non sighted readers so here is the text. A young girl is talking to a bird.

Eef I water, ze crab grass, she grow
Eef I do not water, ze dirt, she show
Ze conundrum, she ees brewing
Alors, Neighbour Bob,
What am I to be doing?

Wait, how about a prize? The best alt attribute text for Pam’s post gets a surprise gift.

The prize and the *ahem* lucky judge to be announced later. Sod it, is that the time? I have to run!

[tags]Talkr, podcast, accessibility, alt, attribute[/tags]

2 Responses to “Talkr podcasting and accessibility”

  1. daisy
    March 21st, 2006 01:06

    [note to me re comments feed: http://chasingdaisy.com/comments/feed/%5D

  2. EmĀ³
    March 21st, 2006 18:55

    *cough* publish basic steps we bloggers can take to improve accessibility *cough*

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