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BBC Issues Draft Guidelines for Mobile Accessibility

A draft set of standards and guidelines to make BBC web content and apps more accessible when viewed on mobile devices has been released by the corporation following a year of testing and development.

The Draft BBC Mobile Accessibility Standards and Guidelines were announced in a blog post by Henny Swan, senior accessibility specialist at the BBC. Up to now the BBC’s existing accessibility guidelines have been used as a basis for creating accessible mobile content, Swan says, but it was felt that more specific mobile standards were now needed.


The Story Behind the BBC Mobile Accessibility Guidelines

By Henny Swan.

The BBC has now published a set of draft Mobile Accessibility Standards and Guidelines to the wider web development community, a ground-breaking project which has been in development for a year now [see also – news, earlier in this issue of E-Access Bulletin]. While written primarily for BBC employees and suppliers to use, the corporation’s hope is that they might be useful for any individual or organisation building mobile web content and native apps.


Open University Media Player Passes Accessibility Test

An online video and audio player being developed by the Open University (OU) for its students and the wider learning community has successfully passed through a round of accessibility testing including testing with deaf and dyslexic users, E-Access Bulletin has learned.

The generic media player, currently viewable as a ‘work in progress’ in alpha or prototype format, is being developed to allow the distance-learning university greater control over the technology used to access it extensive bank of podcast material.

The OU’s 200,000 students are likely to begin using the player on the university’s virtual learning environment by the end of this year or the start of next, according to Nick Freear, a web developer in the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology. It will also feature on ‘OpenLearn’, an open educational resources portal where anyone can access hundreds of online learning materials for free.

Accessibility features of the media player including the ability to add captions for video, and developers will be able to change the look and feel for use on their own websites, Freear said. The player is built on Flowplayer, an open source flash player which works on both desktop and tablet computers such as the Apple iPad, with HTML and Javascript additions, he said.

Eventually the source code for the accessible player might be opened up, Freear said. “but that’s down the line.”

Apple Devices ‘Revolutionary’ For Built-In Accessibility

Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices are “revolutionary” and “game-changing” in offering built-in accessibility functions for people with disabilities, delegates heard at this year’s E-Access ’10 conference in London.

Kiran Kaja of the RNIB Digital Accessibility Team told a mobile phone workshop that while accessibility applications are available for other smartphones – such as the ‘Eyes Free Shell’ for Google’s  Android phone – the iPhone 3GS is a “game-changer” because its accessibility features are built in across all its functions.

First Internet Web Radio Launched For Blind Users

A new internet radio set has been developed for blind and visually impaired listeners, allowing people to listen online to audio books, podcasts, talking newspapers and audio catalogues, as well as internet radio stations from around the world.

Manufactured by the charity British Wireless for the Blind Fund ( ), the ‘Sonata’ radio – claimed to be the first of its kind – was launched earlier this month, and allows users to listen to any streamable, unlicensed internet audio feed.

RNIB Team Welcomes Off-The-Shelf iPhone Accessibility

An advanced screen-reader and other accessibility features on a new version of Apple’s iPhone represent an “extremely significant development” for a previously inaccessible technology, according to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

‘Off-the-shelf’ features built into the iPhone 3GS allow blind and visually impaired users to send and receive text messages and emails, browse the internet, play music and make and receive phone calls.

Row Brewing Over E-Book Speech Function Removal

A row has erupted over whether or not publishers should be allowed to disable the text-to-speech function on electronic book readers, after one US reader manufacturer bowed to requests from an authors’ rights group and made the speech function optional.

Manufacturer Amazon made the move with respect to its new Kindle 2 e-book reader following representation from the Authors Guild, which had claimed that the automatic allowance of text-to-speech (TTS) conversion effectively created an audiobook device, even though no audio royalties were being paid.

international computer camp for VI students in Finland

I’m off to ICC 2007 next week to run a couple of workshops and run a camp Blog, see my post to this effect over at my Blog and please follow the camp blog and comment too to let the students know you're out there.