Archive for the ‘adobe’ Category

A Few Blindy Issues

August 25, 2009

Books for the Blind

I have discussed here previously of the lack of books for the visually impaired and yet still nothing seems to be progressing. rather it seems to be going backward all of the time. now iPhone app developers are also buying into the author’s gild’s incorrect perception of what text to speech really is and not considering for a second how imperative it should be for the VI individual to have the same access to books as their sighted counter parts.

this is becoming a frustrating issue because if there were more books available, study and recreational reading would be made so much easier. At present, we are either forced to pay subscriptions to audio book sellers, pay three times as much than we would have to for a paperback, or subscribe to organisations like Book share that still only has a limited amount of books on offer.

British charity, RNIBhave set up petitions to increase the three percent of all books published in the UK that currently get transcribed into an accessible format for the visually impaired but sadly no one seems to be hearing their pleas or the millions of visually impaired book users.

What do we have to do to make these people who deem it unacceptable to have all books published in a format that all vI users can use. Technology today makes it so easy for this to be done affordably for all. And the Author’s gild are trying to “protect” their “authors?” rather they are protecting the publishers. But if all books were made accessible, for example on Amazon as e-books, capable of being read on an accessible product like the kindle could be, or on their computers with their own screen reading solutions or on an app for a mobile device like the iPhone, then I can guarantee book sales would rise. You’d have a whole new market of readers capable of reading all books published.

The screen reader acts as the user’s eyes, both on the computer systems and mobile devices, so by refusing access for text to speech products, are you not indeed denying a visually impaired person of being treated equal? If a visually impaired person downloaded an ebook and read it with their designated screen reader, would it not just be the exact same way they would read a website, read an article or read their email? Text to speech is not a replacement for a human voice, and it never will be. No matter how amazing the developers make these speech engines, they will never truly sound like a human voice that is capable of interpreting and emotion. This seems to be simply a pathetic argument to keep the visually impaired community subsidising an extortionate, limited audio book market that cannot be a replacement or an open market. It is limited and expensive and without the visually impaired community paying for it, almost desolate, in my opinion.

The kindle with text to speech is not only a great solution for the visually impaired community but a safer method for people reading. Drivers, people cooking, no longer have to read pages and distract themselves, they can simply listen. It’s about time someone told the author’s gild about their severe misconception of what text to speech really is.

Adobe, flash friendly?

I guess I am giving you a few things to think about today. Adobe and its products is my second thinking point. Flash content has been difficult for screen reader users for a while now and it seems as though it just will never get any better. Jaws handles it, not well but sometimes is capable although users have to do a lot of guess work in order to use flash well. Mac users however, cannot do anything with the flash content or players in safari as the voice over will not detect it. This, according to apple is how adobe have designed their flash and apple have put out their accessibility API for a long time so this should not be happening. I do believe Adobe should do more to make flash and flash players accessible and the guide lines to design flash players should be a lot stricter and in accordance to the internet accessibility requirements. They suggest that it is not necessary to make flash accessible for the mac because there is not a huge visually impaired market on the mac platform but it is growing and this is becoming a poor excuse to say the least.

There are many and I mean many sites using flash that could be used quite easily if the content was accessible. And even though most web developers despise flash, the question remains, why does it continue to exist in such a poor way?
It would seem that this
issue has got to the point of voice over users wanting results and there is now a Petition that the Maccessibility network have put together and plan to submit to Adobe in January 2010. If you feel as strongly about this as I do, go to the petition and sign.

Blind Specific Products

This is purely my opinion but there seems to be two camps that visually impaired people fall into. First, the ones who’d rather mainstream products be made accessible and secondly, the ones who’d rather use everything that was specifically made for the blind. Don’t get me wrong, whatever products work for the individual but do we not all think that the blind specific market, that is to say, companies that specifically design products for the blind are benefiting from a unfair campaign that throws up incorrect facts about their mainstream counterparts.

Companies like Apple have had an integrated screen reader in their OS for four years now, with their third OS being made available this Friday that has enabled users to use their macs completely unassisted from the ground up. a visually impaired user can install their OS from the start and can set up their computers and freely use their computers both on a personal and professional level daily. True that some users choose to have windows also installed for a few applications but most of these users have to for work purposes. However, a computer can be bought at the same price as a screen reader for windows with its built in screen reader, not to mention all of the other benefits. So why does freedom scientific still hold ninety percent of the visually impaired market? Sure, the Mac OS with built in screen reader is fairly new and more and more users are migrating to the mac platform but is it not a question of those users who are brain washed into believing the “blind specific” product is better?

The iphone is also another example of a “mainstream” product capable of supporting the needs of a visually impaired person. Granted it may not suit everyone but should companies be pushing the visually impaired user into believing that the “blind specific” product is better simply because it is designed for them?

A small market demands more revenue from its customers to make the product viable but surely the cost of a whole computer for a piece of software does not get people thinking twice? i am the type of person who likes to keep my money close to my chest and find it hard to justify this cost when I can get a brand new computer with great specs for the same cost. The same deal goes with the mobile phone market. You would firstly have to get your phone and then pay a licence to have speech enabled. Yet, you can have a mainstream product work straight out of the box for a similar cost if not less in some cases, for example the UK. On O2 you could get a free iphone if you had a forty pound plan, and the most you’d pay would be ninety pounds which wouldn’t even come close to the one hundred and fifty pounds talks licence. What I am basically saying is that I understand why the market is so expensive but I am uncertain why some people won’t even give the mainstream market a shot? At least try it and then say it doesn’t work for you but there are too many individuals simply not trying the mainstream product because it wasn’t specifically designed for them.

Guess it costs you to be blind, you can’t read what books you may like as soon as your sighted friends or have a huge choice of what to read.
Flash doesn’t work at all well no matter what you’re using.
And it will cost you an arm and a leg to be able to do certain tasks if you stick with the “blind specific” products.

All of this is my opinion, feel free to post your thoughts.

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