Blind World Magazine

Blind users getting help to get on the Internet.




Dayton Daily News, Ohio.
Monday, August 14, 2006.




For most Web users, pop-up ads and layered graphics can be annoying. But for blind users, they are major roadblocks on the Internet highway.


But pressure from lawsuits and advocates for the visually impaired has resulted in Web pages that are easier for the blind to navigate using screen-reading equipment.


Last month Google introduced a special search engine that ranks sites according to how accessible they are to the blind (labs.google.com/accessible/). Yahoo! also redid its home page within the past month with larger, simpler display options, and AOL will soon follow suit.


"More and more companies are going to have to address these issues, not only for the disabled population, but for the aging (baby boomers) who are going to be exerting pressure of their own to access all these technologies," said Jesse Walker, a human factors research psychologist at the University of Dayton Research Institute.


Walker has been working with several corporations on building more accessible Web pages.


That's something Nate Fernandes, 21, a senior at the University of Dayton, can appreciate. He uses a popular software program for the blind called JAWS (Java Access With Speech) that enables his computer to read the content on computer screens out loud.


But some items, like PDF files, are often difficult for his equipment to read.



http://www.daytondailynews.com/localnews/content/localnews/daily/081406blindaccess.html




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