jesse_the_k: mirror reflection of 1/3 of my head, creating a central third eye, a heart shaped face, and a super-pucker mouth (Default)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
It IS exciting to see kids interested in engineering, and I know [personal profile] selkiechick posted with the best intention.

However, that announcement pushed a whole row of my Assistive Technology Geek buttons, and I gotta rant. I'll can use the "BRAIGO" to illustrate why I get so hot under the collar. (My cred: I've hung out with people who use assistive technology since 1982; I designed and sold braille translation software and embossers in the late eighties; and I've personally depended on assistive technology since 1991.) Based on thirty year's close attention to the development/PR/funding/purchasing/abandonment cycle for assistive technology, here's my take on the BRAIGO announcement.


DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT EXPERT ENDUSERS IS POINTLESS  ) That's why the BRAIGO can't create useful braille.

PR BECOMES DISINFORMATION ) A $350 embosser would be an amazing thing. Hundreds of well-intentioned editors and readers are willing to take the inventor's word for it. But this device is not a embosser.

EXPERTS ARE AVAILABLE on REQUEST! ) We live in a press release culture: what the company wants to say is what we hear. Or in this case, what a 12 year old (who mentions absolutely no contact with braille users) says gets broadcast.


Start from the first dot at the RNIB's Learning Braille site or pick an excellent start for adults at the Achayra firm in India. Teach more at the National Federation of the Blind's Braille is Beautiful resource for kids.

tl;dr Just because assistive technologies are tools for people with disabilities doesn't mean we must accept only good intentions. We want the best engineers working on our designs, the best marketers making them affordable, and the best politicians making them subsidized.
elf: Quote: She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain (Fond of Books)
[personal profile] elf
Only indirectly related to fandom (I know plenty of fen who've switched to ereaders for much of their reading), but strongly related to accessibility: Amazon, Kobo and Sony are requesting that the FCC exempt dedicated e-readers (PDF) from the requirement to be accessible.

"The public interest would be served by granting this petition because the theoretical ACS ability of e-readers is irrelevant to how the overwhelming majority of users actually use the devices," it says, as if any accessible features were granted because those were how the majority used them.

It goes on to say "E-readers simply are not designed, built, or marketed for ACS, and the public understands the distinction between e-readers and general-purpose tablets." I... have my doubts about that, especially since e-reader manufacturers work really hard to imply that there's no difference, just BW e-readers and color e-readers.

Most of the functions that would require ACS don't exist on many ereaders; I don't agree that means the rest of them shouldn't require it. I suspect this is a ploy to get Kindles into schools without having to be accessible to students with disabilities. Possibly, though, it's exactly what it says it is: an attempt to allow browsers and social media software on limited-use devices without holding them to the same standards as phones and tablets.

ETA1: changed link to the FCC page with embedded PDF.

ETA2: There's a request for comments that last through THIS MONTH. Comments Due: September 3, 2013

"Comments and oppositions are due within 30 days from the date of this Public Notice. Reply comments are due within 10 days after the time for filing comments and oppositions has expired."
holyoutlaw: (Default)
[personal profile] holyoutlaw
Does anyone know of any tablet-based apps or practices to help someone recovering from a stroke with communication issues? "They" probably want him to do a lot of handwriting, because he was an artist, but a tablet might be helpful for regular things.

Thanks in advance!
runpunkrun: combat boot, pizza, camo pants = punk  (Default)
[personal profile] runpunkrun
Hi folks, I need some help with making the author commentaries I've written compatible with screen readers. Author commentaries are story texts that have paragraphs of commentary inserted into them. In the two I've written, the only way to differentiate between story and commentary is visually and I'd like to fix that. Here's how my commentary for "Meanwhile, Back in Metropolis" is currently formatted using css. Paragraphs of commentary are set off from the story by a blue background, which I'm sure a screen reader couldn't care less about. I could easily create a div class "commentary" for those sections, but I don't know if screen readers typically announce that sort of information.

So my question is: How can I set apart the commentary sections in a satisfactory way for fans with screen readers?

Googling, I found Designing for Screen Reader Compatibility, which describes how to hide content visually while still making it available to screen readers. I could add "Commentary:" in hidden text in front of every section of commentary. But would it have to be in front of every paragraph, or is once a div enough? Would it be helpful to have a hidden "end commentary" text as well?

I only have a basic understanding of how screen readers work, so if there's a simple solution that I've overlooked, it's probably because I didn't realize it was an option. I'd appreciate your input and any suggestions you might have. I know that not everyone uses their screen reader in the same way.

Thank you for your help.

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