IBM, open source community aim to improve Internet accessibility

IBM, open source community aim to improve Internet accessibility

Summary: IBM and groups like the OpenAjax Alliance are launching a few initiatives to make the Internet more accessible to folks with mobility or sensory disabilities.

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IBM and groups like the OpenAjax Alliance are launching a few initiatives to make the Internet more accessible to folks with mobility or sensory disabilities.

The overarching theme here is that the Internet needs voice Web development and other interfaces to address 750 million people around the world with disabilities and another 900 million illiterate folks. The elderly as well as people with disabilities have largely had to sit out the Web 2.0 advances such as social networking.

Among the notable moves:

  • The OpenAjax Alliance (OAA) will open roll out new source tools to help developers test Web 2.0 applications to see how they line up with federal accessibility standards. With the OAA tools, applications are tested dynamically as developers build the code. Before the OAA tool developers had to complete their ode to see how they worked for the blind and other people with disabilities.
  • IBM Research in India will launch an effort with the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay to develop mobile Web interfaces for semi- to illiterate people.
  • IBM Research in Japan will highlight an accessibility improvement system to deliver public services via the Internet. Japan has a bevy of elderly citizens it needs to reach. Japan's Tottori Prefecture Information-Center, KOA Corporation and IBM will collaborate on the system, which will aggregate requested improvements in the cloud and renovate pages to address requests by the disabled.

Topics: Open Source, Browser, CXO, IBM, Software Development

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  • The problems with standards

    I've produced eLearning with synchronised voice-over for years, the problem is the standards assume you don't have audio and the vision challenged will need to tab around the screen listening to text and alt-text read out in a robotic voice. There's nothing worse that having voice-over and a screen reader functioning at once.

    Instead, we now build extra functionality into our own interface. Since every screen is voiced anyway, we provide a selection at the beginning to make extra functions available. All questions or interactions will also be available as phone style menus, an extra key is available to describe graphics on the screen and all instuctions are spoken and can be repeated.

    We also include transcripts for all videos for the deaf and make sure buttons are large and easy to use for those with physical problems.

    Unfortunately, the standards for disability simply provide a way for the disabled to make do, rather than insisting developers make sure their interface has that extra functionality.
    tonymcs@...