Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for March 14

We present to you a menu of tidbits collected in recent days that are too short for blog posts and sometimes too long for a tweet (when we want to add clarifying comments). Headings provide a light grouping to help you skim the offerings. Bon appétit!

Techie Stuff

The Mono Accessibility project "enables many Windows applications to be fully accessible on Linux. " Oh, they're looking for people to help write code, documentation, or bug swatting. Consider joining their team.

Talking about the Mono Accessibility project brings us to "Moonlight". Moonlight was an open source implementation of Silverlight!! Intrigued? Read more in this article about Moonlight.

Game On

Here is a list of several European initiatives concerning gaming and people with disabilities.

  • The Game On Project – A European initiative on "using Game Based Learning to develop basic, personal and work sustainability skills in prisoners, those at risk of offending and ex-offenders, including those with disabilities."
  • The GOAL-Net project (paper is available in the Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Games Based Learning, page 529) – "The project will support participants in training and further training activities, in the acquisition and the use of knowledge, skills and qualifications to facilitate personal development, employability and participation in the European Labour Market." This project is now completed; you can download the software and other resources at this site. [No longer available as of March 2015.]
  • "Design of Serious Games for Students with Intellectual Disability" (the GOET project) by Cecilia Sik Lanyi and David Joseph Brown, March 2010 is a paper given at the India HCI 2010/ Interaction Design & International Development 2010 (IHCI). "We have designed and developed around 10 serious games under the EU Leonardo Transfer of Innovation Project: Game On Extra Time (GOET) project. The project supports people with learning disabilities and additional sensory impairments in getting and keeping a job by helping them to learn, via games-based learning; skills that will help them in their working day."

Project RECALL in Europe is a slight variation on a gaming project. It "combines location based services with games based learning approaches." RECALL "has been developed to meet a need identified from years of research in working with user groups of people with learning disabilities and their teachers/trainers. This research has shown that on leaving compulsory education, people with learning disabilities, who have previously been provided with transport to allow them to access community activity, suddenly become excluded from lifelong learning and community activity because of their lack of independent travel skills." RECALL is still in its early stages, but it is definitely worth monitoring.

Reflections, Musings, and Ponderings

Sandi Wassmer shares her thoughts on "Inclusivity may be taking over, but it isn't leaving accessibility behind". Inclusivity versus accessibility–is there a difference? [Unfortunately, her website is no longer active as of January 2020.] The article includes a link to her presentation at the London Web Standards in February.

"Accessibility isn't just about disabilities, it's about varying degrees of ability to access content." That's a great quote from the article "Moving forward is holding us back". Computer monitors might be getting bigger, but what about those teeny tiny mobile devices?

@sarahebourne benefits from accessible websites when using her Kindle for the Web. She wrote an excellent review of using Accessible Twitter on her Kindle. [Unfortunately, her website is no longer available as of May 15, 2014.]

Help, I Need Somebody

Don't ever assume that the entire world using the emergency number that you use in your country. Wikipedia lists emergency telephone numbers from around the world; only Australia and New Zealand make reference to TTY phone numbers (devices used by deaf people). Apparently, emergency numbers for deaf people are often special numbers. The three-digit national emergency numbers are generally not usable by deaf people, which means they need to know and memorize a different number.

The page for the deaf and hard of hearing from the West Yorkshire Police (UK) site lists an 11-digit number where you can send a text message – but all messages must be prefixed with "999". That's a lot to remember in an emergency!

The Australian emergency call service uses Triple Zero (000) for their main emergency number if you need urgent help from police, fire, or ambulance services.

  • You can call 000 from any fixed or mobile phone and certain VoIP and satellite services. You can also call 000 from any quot;handheld" satellite phone. You can call 000 using the Emergency+ app on your smartphone. One advantage of using the Emergency+ app to call 000 is that if you don't know your exact location, the app will use the GPS on your smartphone to help you to give emergency services your location.
  • 106 can only be used with a teletypewriter (TTY) or a device for the deaf or who have a hearing or speech impairment – not for use from a mobile phone. You cannot access 106 by SMS. You can also ask the National Relay Service (NRS) for a captioned relay, internet relay, SMS relay, video relay, or voice relay call to be transferred to Triple Zero if you need emergency help from police, fire, or an ambulance service.
  • 112 can only be dialed on a mobile phone.
  • You cannot contact 000 or 112 by text message.

Now (March 2010), New Zealand is making the headlines because they are the first country in the world where deaf people can send a text to the national emergency number, 111 (179 KB .pdf). When you think about it, it is rather amazing that we haven't gotten much farther in the year 2010.

Stereotypes Revisited

"Talk" is a video that "portrays a society in which non-disabled people are a pitied minority and disabled people lead full and active lives." The following links are subtitled and signed (BSL, I believe): Talk, Part 1 (5 min. 40 sec.) and Talk, Part 2 (5 min. 7 sec.)

"Talk" is a great video to watch, but if you are in a hurry, try this 35-second video showing "able-bodied people trying to live in a world made for those with disabilities".

Nicolas Steenhout (@vavroom) compared some advertising from the late 90s to current ads by the Canadian Paralympics Committee. His blog post about "Awesome Ads Presenting The Disabled In A Different Light" is a must-read. The captions for the ads means those who cannot see the pictures can still follow the story – an example for others to follow (hint, hint). See the presentation "Slides for Accessibility Presentation at LCA2010 Business Miniconf: Accessibility and FOSS" (.pdf) [Ed note: Unfortunately no longer available as of 28 March 2020. ]

Merinda Epstein uses cartoons to present issues around mental health services in a "humorous, satirical, or ironical manner". These are not captioned, but I am sure a volunteer would be welcome to offer their captioning services.

Quotes for the Week

@sarahebourne wrote a tweet recently that is definitely worth repeating here:

Accessibility is not about "being nice to the blind." It's about avoiding restrictions that arbitrarily exclude people.

@mattmay sent a great comment from the current South-by-Southwest gathering in Austin, Texas. It was too long to re-tweet, but I had to share it.

Touch-centric apps are a HUGE trend at #sxswi. In case you were wondering what accessibility experts will be fixing in 5yrs. #TouchHolyGrail

Link Contributors

This post was glued together with links or inspiration from many people. They are listed with their Twitter names.

@DaveBanesAccess
@mattmay
@meera404
@mpaciello
@pixeldiva
@SandiWassmer
@sarahebourne
@slewth
@strongria
@vavroom
@webaxe
@WgChef


Flash Accessibility Only on Windows?

Making Flash accessible is a good thing. However, accessible Flash is not perceivable by screen-reader users if they don't use Windows. If a screen-reader user needs information that is contained in a Flash presentation, that user needs to be on Windows. Oops.

Everett Zufelt (@ezufelt) brought this to my attention on Twitter today shortly after I shared news from @awkawk about Flash presentations: "Accessible Flash Presentation How To".

Freedom of Choice

The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.

That's a famous quote from Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web. Nowhere does it say "works only with one operating system". Users of assistive technology might want a choice.

The really crucial point here is freedom of choice – people with disabilities should have a freedom of choice when choosing their operating system. After all, sighted people have the choice.

As someone who doesn't use a screen reader, I had long thought that making Flash accessible would solve most issues around Flash for blind or low-vision computer users. Fortunately, expert users of screen readers are on the Internet clarifying matters and clearing up misunderstandings. I appreciate Zufelt setting me straight – and now you – on this issue. Making Flash accessible only helps some of the users.

Having a Choice

What can be done? I won't go into design issues about choosing Flash. Right now, there is a lot of Flash out there and some of it was made accessible. How can screen reader users not on Windows perceive that Flash material?

You still have time to sign the petition from the Mac-cessibility network asking Adobe to commit to accessibility for Flash on Macs. When that petition is presented to Adobe, perhaps they'll consider doing the same thing for Linux.

In his "New approaches to Flash and Java accessibility in the browser on Windows", Marco Zehe expresses hope that "the better support in NVDA for Flash should also be an incentive to Adobe to make Flash accessible on other platforms such as Linux and Mac."

Let's hope that more people in Flash classes ask about accessibility – and on which platforms. People must keep asking these questions so that the outstanding accessibility issues are addressed. This is also an opportunity for software producers to become industry leaders by addressing accessibility routinely from Day 1 of development.

Those who are blind in this matter are not the users, but the ones who are developing software with inaccessible features.

P.S. I snipped Tim Berners-Lee's quote from the pages of W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative.