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Internet For The Blind

TrafficSwarm member since June 2011
Today I am going to discuss the problems, and solutions with building accessible websites, and software. It is a fact that most of the information on the internet these days is geared towards the sighted public... As this is not a particularly bad thing, it is, none the less, unfortunately, not so great for the unsighted, or "blind community"... As our sociaty is visually orientated,...Today we have videos, tv, computer screens, cell phones, laptops, Ipods, Ipads, gps, graphics, Icons, avatars, picles, thousands of colors, touch screens, L.E.Ds, video games, music keyboards with LEDs, musical effect pedels with LEDS,...I could go on naming all of the things, and gadgets that are prevelant in our day to day lives,..all of which rely on visual interface... Now lets talk software,...There are literally millions of different types of software, and I am willing to bet that more than 2 thirds of all of the software in this world is not accessible for the blind community... Yes, that is a strong statement, but a very true statement. So,...just how many blind, and visually impaired people are there in the world?... You would be surprized to actually know... We tend to think of the famous people, like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, to name just a few,...but you get the picture... What about the average blind community,...the moms, the dads, the young children, the teenn agers, the grand parents, the teachers, Do you know just how many of our young people who defend our country come home without sight?,...You would be surprized to find out!... Being born without sight is a pretty bad thing for those who are not aware of the unsighted communities problems, but these people born without sight learn to adapt at a very early age,...mostly right out of the womb... But someone who looses their sight half way through their life is a most tragic thing... Now,...how many unsighted people actually use computers, and browse the internet?,...Millions!,...Yes, there literally millions of unsighted people, worldwide, on the internet with their computers... So my challenge for the sighted population is this... Take one half hour out of your day,...put on a blindfold,...and try to use your computer, and surf the internet... By doing this you will experience what it is like to be without sight, and have the desire to be computer literate, and internet ready... In order for the unsighted to use their computers, and surf the internet, they must use special software called "screen reading software",...This software does just what it is named for,...It literally reads the computer, and the internet!... You can check one such screen reader out here: http://satogo.com It is a free screen reader from "Serotek"... Go ahead, download this software, load it in your computer, and wittness the unsighted web experience... Now,...here is the problem with most websites, and software in the world today... In order for the screen reader to work properly, the screen reader must have literal text to grab hold of,...If there is no text, the screen reader says nothing!... So, the unsighted is trying to get the screen reader to read something that is not there... most programmers make websites, and software with out consideration for the unsighted...They put all of the fancy code, and fonts, flash, java, and all of the other kinds of code that is geared particularly for the sighted, without any consideration for the unsighted... It is not, for the most part, their fault though,...They just need to be educated as to the needs for the unsighted computer, and internet users... Companies like "Microsoft, and HP, and Dell are becoming aware of this problem, and slowly, they are making their software, and computer hardware accessible... Yahama makes a keyboard called the "Motif" that is accessible for blind musicians,...Stevie Wonder uses one of these for his music arsonal... So when you, the programmer, set out to make software, don't forget about the unsighted community... There is an abundant of information on the internet that has specific guide lines for building accessible software... For instence,...when you place pictures, and graphics on website, and in software, there must be text caption, to explain what the particular pic. and graphic is about... By doing this, the screen reader will be able to read the text, and tell the unsighted user what's going on... I hope this makes more people aware of the life, and times of the unsighted community... I like to use my computer, and browse the internet, and I particularly like marketing on the internet... I can say that Veretekk has some pretty accessible software for accomplishing this... There are a few problems, but, for the most part, I think Veretekk is a great example of what can be done for the unsighted community... My hope is that people may read this article, and follow in their footsteps... The world is changing, lets keep up with that change...

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