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Archive for the ‘Accessibility-Usability’ tag

Higher Ed Live + Web Accessibility

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Higher-Ed-Live

I’ll be the guest on Higher Ed Live this Sunday at 4PM PST / 7PM EST. The topic is web accessibility and higher education websites. I’m really excited to be on the show!

Ensuring our websites are usable by people of all abilities and disabilities is a legal and moral obligation many higher ed institutions have failed to live up to. Eric Stoller, an Oregon-based student affairs technology expert, national speaker, and blogger for Inside HigherEd, joins Higher Ed Live to talk about accessibility on the high ed web, including legal requirements, who’s doing it right and all the tools a school needs to get it up to speed.

Blogging Student Affairs and Technology

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Inside Higher Ed - blogging about student affairs and technology - Eric Stoller

I am thrilled to announce that I’m going to be blogging about Student Affairs and Technology for Inside Higher Ed (IHE). As an avid reader of IHE, I am very excited to join the IHE blogging team. I think that my posts on student affairs + technology will complement Joshua Kim’s blog on Technology and Learning.

Recently, I held a contest via Twitter to name my new blog. The incentive — a $100 Amazon gift card — courtesy of Inside Higher Ed. Several folks came up with interesting/creative blog names. I think the #SAChat Community provided the majority of ideas. Student Affairs folks are uber creative.

Here are my 3 favorite submissions:

  • Jeff Jackson: The Stoller Strikes Back, Return of the Blogosphere, Student Affairs….I am Your Blogger
  • Zack Ford: Challenge and Tech Support
  • ACUHO-I (sent via DM): Binary Code of Conduct

Choosing a winner from these 3 has been extremely challenging. Star Wars references, Sanford, and an entire Association…how cool is that?!! After more than a week of deliberate (intentional ;-) ) deliberating I have decided that the winner of the gift card is:

eric-stoller-challenge-and-tech-support

Zack Ford’s submission made me laugh. It’s subtle….and I love subtlety. The obvious nod / homage to Nevitt Sanford warms the heart. Challenge and Support is one of my all-time favorite, and oft-used, student development theories.

It should be noted that Julie Larsen was correct…the official name of my new blog is going to be: Student Affairs and Technology. The name needed to be something that would be simple enough that any IHE reader would know exactly what it was about. The blog also needed to be search engine friendly…”Students Affairs + Technology” is simple and searchable.

Stay tuned for my first official post on Inside Higher Ed!

Honorable mention:

Julie P-Kirchmeier: Stoller: Resistance is Futile

Niki Rudolph: Epic Stoller

Justine Carpenter: Tech Tips for SAPs

Christopher Conzen: The Stoller Coaster

Google adds auto-captioning to YouTube

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Google does not always create accessible products (GoogleWave). However, sometimes they do a good job of increasing the accessibility of an existing service. I hope that Vimeo gets the message that accessibility is important.

In the first major step toward making millions of videos on YouTube accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired people, Google unveiled new technologies that will automatically bring text captions to many videos on the site.

[Google] combined their automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology with the YouTube caption system to offer automatic captions, or auto-caps for short. Auto-caps use the same voice recognition algorithms in Google Voice to automatically generate captions for video.

Google Wave and Accessibility

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Google Wave is “totally inaccessible.” According to Web Accessibility in Mind’s (Web AIM) Jared Smith.

Smith’s list of Google Wave’s inaccessible aspects is quite disappointing:

  • Alternative text is not provided for any images.
  • Background images are used to convey content.
  • Roles, states, and other accessibility properties are not defined.
  • There is no document or heading structure or semantics. None! Not even a list!
  • Form elements do not have labels or titles.
  • Keyboard focus indication is hidden, making keyboard navigation nearly impossible.
  • Most interactive elements are not in the tab order or do not respond to keyboard activation.
  • Keyboard focus is often trapped, requiring the page or browser to be closed to resume keyboard navigation.
  • The application becomes unusable and unreadable when text size is increased only slightly.

I concur with Smith’s hope that Google Wave will be made into an accessible product. It’s too bad that accessibility was not part of the initial framework of Google Wave. How many times do we have to experience something built with either brick/mortar or “1’s and 0’s” that is not accessible for all users? Ableism is so pervasive. C’mon Google…you can’t really be “great” if you’re not making great things for everyone to use.

Vimeo and closed captioning

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Vimeo is not accessible for users with hearing impairments

Yesterday’s post on Vimeo, YouTube, accessibility and closed captioning was read, and commented on, by Blake Whitman, Director of Community at Vimeo. Please note that I do not have any ill will towards Vimeo. They make neat things. I just wish that they made them accessible…which really means that their “things” aren’t as neat as they could be.

According to Blake:

I thought I would respond here as I believe there may be a misunderstanding regarding our intentions. We care a great deal about closed captioning and we fully intend to provide such support as soon as we can assign developers to the project. While YouTube has large staff and ample resources, we are a small and dedicated team that works tirelessly to meet all of our users’ needs. We did not mean to offend you or anyone else who would like to see CC support on Vimeo, and we will develop a closed captioning system as soon as we are able to. We apologize for the wait.

Blake was responding to my comment on the lack of captioning technology for Vimeo videos. My comment was driven by a comment that Blake left on the Vimeo forums:

[Captioning] is a very big project and not something that can just happen overnight. We have a lot of higher priority features in the cue right now, and when we find the appropriate time, we will definitely look into offering CC support.

My question to Blake and the folks at Vimeo is how can you “care a great deal about closed captioning” while not actually actively supporting its development?

Read the rest of this entry »

Adding captions to YouTube videos

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I used to be a huge fan of Vimeo. Their user interface and HD video capability is top notch. Unfortunately, Vimeo has decided that accessibility is not a priority. 8 days ago on the Vimeo forums, the topic of accessibility via closed captions / subtitles was added to the Vimeo Community Forums – Feature Request section. Vimeo’s response to this request was extremely saddening:

We have a lot of higher priority features in the cue right now, and when we find the appropriate time, we will definitely look into offer CC support.

Vimeo is telling its community that users with hearing impairments do not matter.

Thankfully, YouTube has now made it very easy to add captions to videos. In fact, YouTube allows for HD uploads, accessible videos and better uptime than Vimeo.

It’s really easy to add captions / subtitles to a YouTube video using dotSUB:

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Lack of intent doesn’t negate discrimination

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A California state Supreme Court decision is being heralded as a victory by disability activists. The unanimous ruling changes past precedent and makes it possible for businesses to be sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act without proving the business did so intentionally.

Inland activist Ruthee Goldkorn said the ruling makes people with disabilities equal to other protected groups because no one else had to prove the discrimination was intentional.

“Let my people in is not a complex concept,” said Goldkorn, who runs No Barriers disability access consulting and serves on the executive board of Californians for Disability Rights.

via Disability activists hail state Supreme Court ruling

Written by Eric Stoller

July 11th, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Subtitles + Common Craft = Awesome

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I’m a big fan of the Common Craft Show. They take complicated concepts and translate them into “plain English”. I was perusing the Common Craft site yesterday when I noticed that they provide links to subtitled versions of their videos via dotSUB.

Here’s an entertaining and accessible (for people with auditory impairments) video called “Zombies in plain English”:

Another benefit of dotSUB is that they provide a transcript of the subtitled text in plain text. This plain text is extremely useful for users who want to access the Common Craft Show content using a screenreader like JAWS or Window-Eyes.

Written by Eric Stoller

December 31st, 2008 at 3:19 pm

An accessible web

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Target settles lawsuit with advocates for blind

Target Corp. will revamp its Web site to make it more accessible for the blind and pay $6 million in damages to plaintiffs who joined a class action lawsuit against the retailer, under a settlement announced yesterday with the National Federation of the Blind.

Virginia Tech Tries ‘Compliance Sheriff’ To Improve Web Site Accessibility

Virginia Tech has selected HiSoftware’s Compliance Sheriff to address management of its Web site accessibility. Compliance Sheriff is a browser-based service that crawls a Web site and compares pages against a user-defined set of criteria. The tool will compare the school’s site against world-wide accessibility guidelines such as the federally-defined Section 508, which addresses how technology should be designed to enable its use by people with physical impairments, and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0/2.0, from the World Wide Web Consortium, which address Web content and mobile Web applications.

Multimedia/Flash Screenreader Tango

Screenreaders don’t like flash, and I’ve invested huge amounts of time to try and satisfy the requirements of a flash (SlideshowPro) feature spot being “cool” and compliant at the same time. It ain’t easy folks. And there are quite a few universities deploying homepage flash content that isn’t accessible. And you know who you are.

WebAnywhere

WebAnywhere provides access to the web from any machine with a modern web browser and some way to play audio. It is useful for web developers who would like to check their pages for accessibility and for blind web users using a computer where no other screen reader is available.

Screen Reader + Website Accessibility

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I remember the first time I closed my eyes, put on a pair of headphones and browsed the web using a screen reader. It was extremely challenging. Images without ALT attributes, Flash objects, and poorly coded websites left me feeling extremely frustrated and gave me even more empathy for web users with visual impairments. I think all website designers/coders should experience what it’s like to browse the web using a screen reader. This video shows Aaron Cannon, blind since birth, browsing a website using a screen reader.

Written by Eric Stoller

July 5th, 2008 at 1:51 pm