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++Issue 147 Contents.
- 01: Apps Risk Creating New World of Exclusion, Report Finds - “Choice, adaptability and flexibility” essential for accessibility.
- 02: Publishers Call for Cohesion on Accessible e-Books - Supply chain pieces should work together, says report.
- 03: Digital Exclusion For Older People 'Set To Continue' - Web designers must address constraints.
- News In Brief:
- 04: News In Brief: 04:
- 05: One Day - Global Accessibility Awareness;
- 06: Cosmopolitan Player: - e-learning pioneer profiled.
- Section Two: Inbox.
- 07: Petitions TV Trouble – new text-to-speech TVs create a stir.
- Section Three: Opinion
- 08: - Entrepreneurship.
- 09: Do People With Chronic Conditions Make Great Entrepreneurs? Julie Howell, who has lived with multiple sclerosis since the age of 19, says coping with a chronic condition has made her a more effective entrepreneur – and others could learn from her experience.
++Section One: News.
+01: Apps Risk Creating New World Of Exclusion, Reportfinds.
Developers of mobile apps must build in “as much choice, adaptability and flexibility as possible” to their products to maximise accessibility for disabled people, or risk creating a whole new world of digital exclusion, a new report finds.
‘Moving together: mobile apps for inclusion and assistance’ ( http://bit.ly/yBTdwo ) was written by E-Access Bulletin editor Dan Jellinek with Peter Abrahams of Bloor Research, on behalf of the OneVoice for Accessible IT Coalition.
The report details a number of key issues facing elderly and disabled users of mobile apps, and makes recommendations for improving the accessibility of such apps.
One emerging area in the field is that of apps for assistance which use ‘crowdsourcing’ to assist users, the report found. These are apps which draw on the knowledge base of a group to provide information or help to other users, such as the iPhone app VizWiz, which allows users to take a photo of something, record a question about the picture, and then ‘crowdsource’ the answer from a team of online workers.
Speaking to E-Access Bulletin, Peter Abrahams, co-author of the report, said accessible apps could enable disabled users “to be independent in ways they could not be in the non-digital environment.” However, “if the app is not accessible then the disabled person will be disenfranchised and marginalised. This is morally, ethically, financially and legally unacceptable”, Abrahams said.
Mobile device retailers should ensure sales staff have training in basic disability awareness and use of the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) database, run by the Mobile Manufacturers Forum ( http://bit.ly/reiCg ), to provide customers with accessibility information, the report says.
The report was launched last month at the inaugural Annual General Meeting of the One Voice for Accessible ICT Coalition, a collection of private, public and third sector groups committed to helping businesses and organisations improve their ICT accessibility. At the meeting, coalition members signed a set of principles detailing their commitment to promote and increase the uptake and delivery of accessible online and mobile services.
The coalition has also drawn-up a ‘Seven Steps’ guide to basic mobile app accessibility for app designers and implementers: http://bit.ly/yL8iaZ
All these steps are designed to help overcome the idea that accessibility is too complicated, Abrahams said. “They also emphasise the fact that accessibility is not just about getting the technical coding right, but goes right through the cycle from commissioning to dealing with feedback.”
And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=716 .
+02: Publishers Call For Cohesion On Accessible E-Books.
A pledge on behalf of the publishing industry to work with all parts of the publishing supply chain to improve the accessibility of e-books has been launched by The Publishers Association (PA), with cross-sector support.
The joint statement ( http://bit.ly/HzaaBV ) was launched at this week’s London Book Fair 2012, and is supported by a range of organisations, including: the Royal National Institute of Blind People; and EDItEUR, the international trade standards body for the book industry.
While technological advancements have made it easier for publishers to produce material that is more accessible to those with print impairments, the whole supply chain now needs to work together to advance e-book accessibility, the statement says.
“The mechanisms by which an ebook is made accessible involve all the actors in the supply chain from author to reader; no single actor in that chain can solve the challenge of accessibility by itself. Publishers, ebook device manufacturers, platform developers, ebook wholesalers and retailers, and of course consumers themselves all have their part to play”, it says.
Publishers are now looking to work with: developers of e-book devices and platforms; e-book retailers; learning providers and libraries; and readers with print impairments.
The PA is asking organisations in all parts of the publishing supply chain, and others interested organisations, to pledge their support to the statement, which they can do through the PA’s website ( http://bit.ly/I7NIfZ ). The association has also produced its own recommendations on accessible publishing and text-to-speech ( http://bit.ly/ApJbsd ).
And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=714 .
+03: Digital Exclusion For Older People 'Set To Continue'.
Today’s technologically-skilled young people are likely to face significant web accessibility problems as they grow older, similar to those faced by elderly computer users today, a professor of computing has said.
Speaking to E-Access Bulletin ahead of his talk at this week’s W4A web accessibility conference in Lyon, France ( http://www.w4a.info/2012/ ), Alan F. Newell, an emeritus professor at Dundee University’s School of Computing, said that he has “every expectation” that today’s young people will face problems using the web in the future, even if they currently have good computer skills. This will arise from their declining abilities (such as poorer eyesight, poorer cognition, poorer dexterity) struggling to cope with constant technological evolution, he said.
To counter these problems web designers must take into account the challenges that face elderly people – which they are not currently doing, Newell said. “Design is all about working to constraints, but web designers don’t see [challenges faced by elderly people] as a constraint they’re prepared to tackle.”
To help tackle the problem web designers should meet older computer users to find out more about the problems they face, Newell said. This would help designers to create sites that are used more easily by older people, which, in turn, would increase usability for everyone, following principles of universal design, he said.
Although older people are commonly seen as technologically inept, it is, in fact, the design flaws of the web which make it unusable by elderly people and other digitally disadvantaged groups, Newell said.
Drawing on lessons from his book published last year, ‘Design and the digital divide’, Newell said the issues faced by older people are different from those faced by younger computer users with disabilities.
“There has been significant work done on accessibility of websites for disabled people, but this tends to be focused on relatively young, highly motivated people with a single disability, but if you look at older people, they usually have multiple minor disabilities.”
And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=712 .
++News in Brief:
+04: Closure Call:
The British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) is calling for government support to help prevent the closure of the ACE Centre, an independent centre in Oxford providing advice, assessments, assistive technology recommendations and training to young people and adults with communication difficulties, and their carers. At a general meeting in March, it was decided that the ACE Centre would be forced to close at the end of June due to a lack of funds:
Short link: http://bit.ly/HKsAif
+05: One Day:
A Global Accessibility Awareness Day is being organised through Facebook for 9 May, asking communities around the world to arrange events that promote digital accessibility. The concept was inspired by a blog post by web developer Joe Devon ( http://bit.ly/tYRJNX ), and the group it has spawned is helping to organise accessibility activities and demonstrations around the globe, as well as asking people to try and use their computers on the day without a screen, without a mouse or without speakers, to give them an insight to the challenges faced by disabled computer users:
+06: Cosmopolitan Player:
Maria Zedda, a UK-based disability awareness and equality trainer who has helped pioneer the use of e-learning in her field, has gained the unusual accolade of a profile in the Italian edition of Cosmopolitan magazine. Zedda, who is partially deaf, is the training director at Wideaware, which uses e-learning techniques to help employers and staff become more aware of disability issues and adhere to legal requirements:
http://blog.wideaware.co.uk/archive/36/maria-zedda-featured- on-cosmopolitan-italy Short link: http://bit.ly/H9lVby
[Section One ends].
++Section Two: 'The Inbox'- Readers' Forum.
Please email all contributions or responses to: email@example.com .
+A Comment Onto Our Eab Live Discussion Website Following Our March Story “Uk’S First Inbuilt Text-To-Speech Tvs Hit The Shelves”, Detailing A Move By Panasonic To Build Text-To- Speech Functionality Into 30 Of Its Tv Models, Making Them The First Such Tvs Available On The Uk General Market.
“It can be only a step in the right direction from Panasonic in putting in text-to-speech software into their TV sets”, writes Timbrell. “My concern would be how many people who need this facility are going to go out and purchase a brand-new TV set? It would be interesting to see if Panasonic can fit a component into existing TV sets to enable text-to-speech in our own TV sets instead of going out to purchase a new one.”
The position is similar with the release of a new talking Freeview set-top box from RNIB, he says – those people who have already bought a Freeview box which is not accessible will be at a disadvantage. “It seems discrimination to those disabled people who had no choice [but] to make do what was available at that time, but [are] not allowed to have what is available today under the similar system.”
Meanwhile another reader, Luca Davanzo, comments on the same story: “Great news! I wonder if text to speech will be available for other languages than English, and when... and [it] would be useful to know the exact TV models with [text to speech] enabled... any hint?”
[Editor’s note: Nigel Prankard from Panasonic has kindly listed the Panasonic model ranges which include the text-to-speech functionality in a comment on the web version of our story – link at the end, or for a for a direct link to the comment use: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=693%20.#comment-6417 .
With regard to text-to-speech TVs being available in other languages, Prankard said: “There is no plan to add any additional languages for our 2012 model range. The problem with additional languages is the memory required to support the language library. Panasonic is considering if this can be addressed in future models. We would like to receive input on European languages that we should consider for future models. In addition, we would like to understand if the user would consider it a problem if they had to download a language via an SD card into the TV set to replace a default language.”]
[Section Two ends].
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++Section Three: Opinion- Entrepreneurship.
+08: Do People With Chronic Conditions Make Greatentrepreneurs? By Julie Howell
Consider this: does having a long-term illness have any advantages?
I’ve been living with multiple sclerosis since age 19. Until recently, I worked for other people, evangelising about the many benefits of web accessibility. Following redundancy in 2010, I found myself at another of life’s crossroads. Should I find another job, or take the road less travelled and start my own business? I plumped for the latter and I haven’t looked back.
Recently, I was asked to address a networking meeting attended by local entrepreneurs. Never having had the desire to scale a mountain or swim with sharks, some ‘thinking outside of the box’ was required.
What is ‘good’ about have a chronic condition and are there any reasons why having a long-term illness might make a person a good entrepreneur? I came up with seven of them.
1: Illness sets parameters.
One of the hardest things about working for yourself is learning to focus on your goals without a boss standing over you. Living with a long-term illness is all about focus – focusing on what you can do, not what you can’t. Having periods of ‘down time’ when I cannot work places a premium on the time when I can work and ‘good time’ is never wasted.
2: We’ve learned to forgive ourselves.
It surprises me how difficult some people find it to forgive themselves for their mistakes. Business is all about learning from mistakes and moving on, so if you struggle to forgive yourself for making a mistake, the chances are you will also struggle in business. When you live with a chronic condition, a major feature of which is crippling fatigue, you learn pretty fast that time and energy spent feeling guilty about it is time and energy wasted.
3: The 4-hour week is no longer just a dream.
‘Work smarter, not harder’ is the entrepreneurs’ mantra and they dream of achieving the elusive ‘four-hour working week’. I joke a little here – many of us with chronic conditions can only manage four hours of work a week... and you’d be amazed how much you can pack in when that’s all the time you have (Parkinson’s Law)! I call this ‘living the dream’.
4: We never waste time.
People procrastinate. I’m sure you’ve worked with someone who can’t make a decision. Making decisions is something I find very easy. They may not always be the right decisions but in business, that’s not what’s important. If you get something wrong, dust yourself down and try again. Time is a precious commodity – don’t waste it through indecision.
5: We work hours others won’t.
I work when I’m at my most lucid and alert, which tends to be in the afternoon and evening. Being happy to work evenings means I can pick up work others find less convenient.
6: We deflect hurtful remarks.
People let things other people say get to them far too often. Everyone with a chronic condition has had to deal with stupid remarks. Learning to deflect crass comments without being negatively affected by them is important, as time spent ruminating would be better spent doing just about anything else.
7: We say ‘no’ without guilt.
Guilt is exhausting. Learning to accept our limitations and say ‘no’, so we can say ‘yes’ more often to the important things, is just good business sense. If every entrepreneur did the same I reckon they would be more successful for it.
I bet there are more reasons why people with chronic conditions can make great entrepreneurs. Isn’t it time to celebrate what we’re good at and remind ourselves of our numerous strengths, even – or maybe especially - in the face of adversity? The entrepreneurs I spoke to seemed inspired: job done.
NOTE: Julie Howell is Managing Director of Giraffe Sense Mentoring.
And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=709
[Section Three ends].
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- Editor: Dan Jellinek.
- Reporter: Tristan Parker.
- Editorial advisor: Kevin Carey.
[Issue 147 ends].