Accessiblity for the Deaf-Blind and mobile users

Jared EvansBy Jared Evans
Friday, February 23rd, 2007

The DeafRead staff tries to keep a pulse of what our visitors and v/bloggers want. We would like to thank tactiletheworld for bringing up an important point that many of us have overlooked often in the past. Tactiletheworld , we want to tell you that we have already taken steps to address some of your concerns.

Perhaps it happens too often, but when Deaf people encounter something that is new and exciting, we try to embrace it in a way that fits us as the People of the Eye. We often rush ahead with whatever it is and leave another group of Deaf people behind in the dust: The Deaf-Blind. This group of people must find ways to be part of a world where spoken language requires the hearing sense and signed language is often for those with eyesight. Often, it’s not only hearing people that they must contend with but ironically, it’s also the Deaf people that they can have a difficult time with.

The hallmark design decision for DeafRead was to avoid the use of graphic images and try to limit ourselves to text and whitespace. This not only makes the page more aesthetically pleasant to look at but also makes the page load very fast. Because it’s mostly text, our page is easily accessible to Deaf-Blind with their technology to read the text off web pages.

Upon reflection, we believed that we could take it one step further for the Deaf-Blind. After some technical research and coding, we have found a way to make all the DeafRead blogs readily accessible for the Deaf-Blind. We hope that this will help bring everyone closer together.

We are now introducing a new icon that looks like this: mobile icon When you click on the mobile icon icon, you will go to a plain text page of the blog post that has been stripped of all the background image, colors, font sizes, and layout.

While the resulting page will look bland to anyone who uses a graphical browser, it is more easily processed by the additional technology that the Deaf-Blind employ to read the world wide web. Because this service displays the plain text only, the video will not show up. If you want to see the video, you may visit the actual page.

As an unexpected bonus, the mobile users who load DeafRead on their T-mobile Sidekicks or Blackberries, will be able to take advantage of the Deaf-Blind icon to quickly download text-only version of the blog posts to read on the small screens.

While this doesn’t directly address the issue of vlogs with transcripts, this new feature will provide the vloggers with an additional incentive to publish a transcript along with their vlogs. The vlog transcripts will be more easily accessible to the Deaf-Blind as well as all the mobile visitors!

20 Responses to “Accessiblity for the Deaf-Blind and mobile users”

  1. Virginia L. Beach Says:

    BRAVO! I applaud DeafRead in taking this step to being as inclusive to all members of our Community as possible.

  2. Dianrez Says:

    Huzzahs for DeafRead for keeping up with the times and issues of its readers! I appreciae this for my Sidekick, too, so I can keep up while on the road! Keep the flame,
    DPG

  3. Christine Says:

    I have tears in my eyes.
    Many, many, many thanks. It feels liberating.
    I will make a mention of you in my blog tomorrow.
    *hugging* this is from the thousands of future Deaf Blind Deafread readers.t

  4. Jamie Says:

    Cheers! Just one suggestion – don’t call it the DeafBlind icon, call it the mobile or accessibility icon:
    >>will be able to take advantage of the Deaf-Blind icon
    I did notice this improvement, and stupid me, I thought clicking on that mobile icon would give me a page with a transcript. As you have explained, it can serve that purpose.
    I like to read DeafRead on the Metro, so this is a VERY welcome improvement!

  5. Jared Evans Says:

    I prefer to call it the DeafBlind icon so that every time the DeafReaders see that icon on DeafRead, they will have a constant reminder about this group of people who get nearly no recognition. It’s our way of keeping them in our minds for the future in the brave new world of Deaf v/blogosphere.

  6. moi Says:

    Thank you – this is an example of how making accommodations for a group benefits the larger group. Captions on TV have proven to be a boon for many hearing people too, just as this will prove to be a boon for sighted readers of DeafRead.com. Thank you!

  7. RLM Says:

    The Deaf Blogsphere finally embrace the Deaf-Blind constituency. I hope that more deaf bloggers/vloggers will adjust their blog/vlog websites to accompany the needs of the most neglected segement of Deaf/deaf community – Deaf-blind.

    That’s why my blog – GallyProtest.com and RLM’s Muses and another blogsite are embeddled in dark background and colored fonts. My blogs have been dead since last May 2006 after I actively participated in the Gally “UFG” protest.

    I could not be possibly become a neutrual observer if I am a participant in some movement myself.

    *waving hands*, DeafRead.

    Robert L. Mason (RLM)

  8. BEG Says:

    I can see this being expanded in a couple of different ways. For example for vlogs posted, a transcript could optionally be supplied and be linked from a similar (or even same) icon.

    Kudos! I’ve been bringing up this subject wherever I can for a while now and it’s nice to see it addressed here.

    And now you, you need to change away from this ChaoticSoul theme…oy, it’s hard for sighted people to read :-O

    Cheers, BEG

  9. BEG Says:

    OK, further unexpected bonus: if I use the icon to read *this* post, I’m not hampered by the black on black on gray on charcoal colour scheme *evil grin*

  10. Jared Evans Says:

    BEG:

    haha… I guess that’s another problem solved! (our chosen theme)

    It would be too much work for our human editors to track all the transcript links if we were to add a “transcript” icon to DeafRead.

    It makes much more sense to just put the transcript under the vlog on the same page. That way, you can use the Deaf-Blind icon to just go visit that page and view the transcript. Kill two birds with one stone!

    Keeping the transcript on the same page as the vlog also makes it more attractive to the search engines which would be able to index the page with the keywords into their search database.

  11. J.J. Puorro Says:

    Nice work, Jared!

  12. Sonny Says:

    Keep it up DeafRead!

  13. MikeS Says:

    Cool.

  14. michele Says:

    Good thinking! I wondered what these icons were so thanks for the explanation. Hopefully the DB will feel more included.
    Michele

  15. Grant W Laird Jr. Says:

    Good deal :)

    This link might do the trick, too. It will get you to front page of deafread.com thru skweezer website if you want to look it up thru mobile version.

    http://www.skweezer.net/skweeze.aspx?q=deafread.com

    gwlj

  16. Jared Evans Says:

    Grant:
    It wouldn’t make much sense to skweezer the front page of DeafRead when it is already designed to maximize the use of text.

  17. Jay Says:

    Ahh, wonderful and thoughtful!

    Hmm, what other groups did we leave out now? I think this will be infinite. Well, we shouldn’t stop trying though.

  18. BEG Says:

    One thought: add the icon to just after the link back to this blog on your right sidebar? The one where it says Human Editors, (blog/bios), have it be Human Editors, (blog [icon], bios)? It would be nice to have a way to get directly to this blog thru the squeezer when you want to check this blog but there isn’t a post from here in the main section.

  19. Opening Doors into Blogland « Tactile The World Says:

    [...] to http://www.deafread.com/blog/?p=100

  20. A Proud Canadian Says:

    Whew, I am glad to learn of your jiffy solution not only for us the Deaf-Blind surfers and v/bloggers, but alos for the mobile users! Thank you for this infamous news.

    Scott Burch

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