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Accessibility advocates have accused Google and Yahoo of shutting out the blind.
The door is still closed.
Now, an Internet petition is asking Google to provide an accessible alternative to the visual verification scheme that currently locks the blind and visually impaired out of participation in all the company's services.
The web is made of text, (and if the HTML is properly marked up, images have an appropriate alt text value)...
There are third party products, even complete web browsers engineered for low-vision and blind users.
Search for: "web browser" blind "screen reader" voice
... I'd be interested to hear how these solutions work --- especially from any blind person "reading" this thread.
Google is working on it, said Marissa Mayer, director of consumer products. "We are planning on releasing some alternatives in the next one to two months that make our current captchas more compatible with screen readers, and we're looking into audio captchas," Mayer said.
Sight-impaired Google fans can expect that to change within a month, Mayer said.
"I'd anticipate we'd have a release that improves this issue in the next month or so," she said, "and one that really solves the problem, hopefully, in the month after that."
Apparently Ms. Mayer's 'accessible' captcha release date was somewhat optimistic. Now possibly April.
The writer (rather than the petitioner) may have more of an agenda: reads to me like a case of holding Google's feet to the fire, taking a swipe at Yahoo, and patting MSN and MSFT on the back.
No lawyers in sight yet. Maybe I need new glasses.
You see nothing, however, of really worth on Google's site...yahoo has a little but even that is sort of pitiful given their market shares.
This is a local group in my area. If you have a major website, I recommend that you also look for like services in your area. It would be nice if the blind had a world wide organization that offered the same service(helping sites to be compatible for the vision impaired), but, currently, this is not available to my knowledge. Until this happens, many web sites will not be accessible by the blind and vision impaired.
Libraries that don't carry braille copies of every book? It is unfortunate that these people can't use these products, but I don't know, maybe I'm jaded with the US justice system
Libraries and books pre-date most nations' laws on accessibily, and therefore have a lot of wriggle room for not being able to comply in all cases.
The web does not predate most nations' acessibility laws.
Any website created that breaks those laws must have been done so deliberately or in ignorance.
If it was deliberate discrimination, then I hope the prison sentences are long.
If out of ignorance, then time to remediate rather than complain about the right to ignorance.
With the web, the story is entirely different, however. Braille converters and screen readers are commonly accessible. There is really no excuse for a website not to function in such a device.
It would be nice if the blind had a world wide organization that offered the same service(helping sites to be compatible for the vision impaired),
Yes, and what we'd also need is software to support such activities. I was recently thinking of implemeting a cms-database for that, offering people the chance to describe my images in more detail. I did supply alt-tags, but maybe in some cases an additional long desc would be helpful. I think to programm such a tool would not be that difficult, but I wouldn't find the time to describe the images myself. I thought of additionally presenting images with an href-link to an input-form where such descriptions might be written. If the writer is offered the opportunity to set a backlink to his own site, this might be a lot more interesting than blogspamming.
I wonder whether webmasterworld is really the place to dicuss/complain the MORAL aspects of these lawsuits. In the first place I see a MARKET there, a technical challenge. Maybe google will one day implemet a '<doublerel>'-tag for such VI-long-desc-blog-entries, inheriting double pagerank to the site that was so friendly to help the blind.
FWIW, visually impaired does not mean hearing impaired. I fairly recently found myself at an audio bookstore: Large selection, fairly-wide subject base, current titles, multiple formats... No VI folk when I was there, and the shop was geared more to "people on the move," but audio books have been available for about as long as sound has been recorded.
On libraries having to stock Braille books... No, no library should be expected to stock a complete selection of Braille (or audio) books, just as no one would expect a library to stock a complete selection of "regular" books. Just to start with, there are physical space issues. But through the interconnecting of libraries and the sharing of their combined resources - as exists with my city's library "system;" books can be ordered from any library, and picked up shortly at your local branch - it's nice to think that most all people that wanted to be served could be served.
I recommend that you also look for like services in your area. It would be nice if the blind had a world wide organization that offered the same service(helping sites to be compatible for the vision impaired)
I have been advised a couple of times to do exactly that. Trying to find a group of visually impaired people to assess how accessible our site was.
I've been told to:
Although I've got to do any of these
We've so far found out that, not only do we have to worry about alt tags and proper image descriptions, but also visual site security. What else? Instead of suing, sending petitions, etc. Why not just explain in detail to us[webmasters] what is needed to make a site fully compatible for the blind?
I'm going to give my friend a call tomorrow to find out what is the hold up on my own site review. If they don't currently have the man power, maybe my friend will remember that I offered to pay for the service... it's not that big of a deal to just hire someone(s) and disperse the costs among webmasters interested in the service.
I don't know how it is now, but at the time I know that using tables on a web page messed up the page for the screen readers. Since most people don't have an opportunity to try out screen readers I think it would be better to program the screen readers properly than to ask everyone to change their web pages. Seems like that would be an easy thing to do in this day and age.
But of course html keeps changing so I guess that means screen readers would need to be changed. Perhaps we can just stop changing the way the web works. Leave html right where it is, then I won't have to keep learning new things. Once a store owner puts in a wheelchair ramp it is pretty much there to stay, it doesn't need to be updated every few years.
Last time I was in the store I didn't notice any price tags in braille
The suit against target said...
. The suit also contends that because the Web site requires the use of a mouse to complete a transaction, blind customers are unable to make purchases on their own."
It would cost business an enormous amount of money
It'll only cost what it'll cost to remove the barriers business deliberately erected to prevent their sites being accessible.
The real question is why did business deliberately set out to undermine the basis of the web and to restrict its accessibility when it was actually cheaper and faster to do it right in the first place?
"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."
-- Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
Mail order catalogs were never required to be accessible. The web is not a place of business, it is simply a place where businesses put their catalogs online. The ADA can't come in and suddenly say every site must be accessible. They didn't even do that with buildings.
Educating people about the problem is a good thing but do you really think suing people is the best way to go about it? Perhaps we should only allow licensed webmasters to build web sites. Not everyone is allowed to just go out and construct a building. We can have inspectors that check the sites to make sure they are up to code. Maybe a web owners association to make sure people don't put too many banners on a page or use ugly colors. This will eliminate all the spam sites and save everyone hours of time. Google can concentrate on being accesible instead of wasting time changing the algo.
First though I think Netscape should sue everyone whos site doesn't work in their browser. I had to stop using Netscape because I came across so many sites that just wouldn't work in it. No doubt it hurt their business. Yes let the lawsuits roll. It will be great for business, clean up the web and create more jobs!