kestrell: (Default)
Kes: I haven't read this, I just saw it on Bookshare.

Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader
by Jos Boys (2017)
Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader takes a groundbreaking approach to exploring the interconnections between disability, architecture and cities. The contributions come from architecture, geography, anthropology, health studies, English language and literature, rhetoric and composition, art history, disability studies and disability arts and cover personal, theoretical and innovative ideas and work. Richer approaches to disability - beyond regulation and design guidance - remain fragmented and difficult to find for architectural and built environment students, educators and professionals. By bringing together in one place some seminal texts and projects, as well as newly commissioned writings, readers can engage with disability in unexpected and exciting ways that can vibrantly inform their understandings of architecture and urban design. Most crucially, Disability, Space, Architecture: A Reader opens up not just disability but also ability – dis/ability – as a means of refusing the normalisation of only particular kinds of bodies in the design of built space. It reveals how our everyday social attitudes and practices about people, objects and spaces can be better understood through the lens of disability, and it suggests how thinking differently about dis/ability can enable innovative and new kinds of critical and creative architectural and urban design education and practice.
kestrell: (Default)
I was asked to review an academic article written about a speculative fiction story featuring blindness. The publishing assistant sent me the file in a filetype which my computer couldn't open and, after resending the file to me, I Googled and found out that that filetype is not accessible with Jaws, my screen reader.
kestrell: (Default)
I just tried submitting the online form
and when I submitted the form, I didn't get any sort of acknowledgment message, oreven a fully loaded Web page. I tried to follow up by calling the library, but I was transferred to a phone which went unanswered.

I'm using Jaws 13 and Firefox; if anyone knows of an accessibility contact person for the BPL, I would appreciate that as well.
kestrell: (Default)
Kes: Love this MIT model which has usability and accessibility as part of the same service instead of creating an accessibility ghetto, but that's the good news, because the ebook accessibility Webinar seems to fail to mention that the only way to convert most proprietary format ebooks is to first crack the DRM, and that would count as a big intellectual property no-no, kiddies so, unless you are the Librarian of Congress, it would be wrong to promote such an act, which of course, I totally do not.

1. Free Webinar-Accessibility and Usability: Working Together at MIT
Tuesday, June 26, 11 Pacific, noon Mountain, 1 Central 2 PM Eastern
Presenters: Katherine Wahl and Stephani Roberts from MIT
The Usability and Accessibility teams in MIT's Information Services and
Technology Department (IS&T) always worked closely together, but were formally
merged during a department-wide reorganization in 2009. Our goal in
blending the
teams was to provide a comprehensive service to clients without diluting our
individual practices.
After two years, we have strengthened our ability advocate persuasively for
usability and accessibility with clients, have provided more comprehensive
services, and have observed standards applied more consistently.
This Webinar will share the MIT experience as a model for other
institutions to
Register for this free June 26 Webinar:

2. EASI Free Webinar: The Cutting Edge of E-book Accessibility
Friday June 15: 11 PM Pacific, Noon Mountain, 1 PM Central and 2 PM Eastern
Presenter: Norm Coombs, Ph.D. CEO EASI, Professor Emeritus RIT

The explosion of e-books is changing the face of book publishing and changing
the role of book stores. Different vendors of e-books created their unique,
proprietary document formats which required their being read in e-readers
designed specifically for that format. Imagine having to use different glasses
to read print books depending on who was its publisher! Of course, the
format and the specialized e-readers were inaccessible to many people with
used to be called "print disabilities". The DAISY document format opened up a
wider and richer reading experience for people with disabilities, but DAISY
books were incompatible with commercial e-readers like the Kindle or Nook, and
commercial e-book formats were incompatible with DAISY.

All this is changing while we ponder these problems. Some software and
DAISY players have added the ability to read some books in the epub format,
the next version of that standard will include even more features that will
support accessibility for users with disabilities. This promises to open up a
new and larger collection of e-books for this population.

What will happen to the divergent proprietary e-book document formats? Either
all publishers will adopt a common e-document standard or, as is happening
already, tools to convert different formats will become common. This Webinar
will explore this complicated picture and try to simplify it for the audience.

Webinar participants will learn which formats are already accessible to them,
and they will be introduced to some tools for document format conversion.

Register for this June 15 Webinar
kestrell: (Default)
FYI: the cost of the course is $350
from the e-mail announcement

block quote start
Creating accessible EPUB, PDF, Word DAISY, audio content and converting between formats
This is a 4-week, EASI course stressing how to make accessible content in
many formats while primarily using authoring tools you already know and
use.While the course has been primarily about creating accessible document
content, this offering

will include an understanding of commercial e-book formats and mainstream
e-readers. Course participants need this background before moving on to
learning how to author accessible e-books in these formats.
Because we are only starting to integrate these insights into the course,
we will be making changes on the fly. The new content will be in a trail
format this time as we think through how to integrate it into the course.
Join me in May and be among the first alternative media content providers
to get astart at the important changes that are coming and which you will
have to understand within the foreseeable future.
We will try to focus on the features that make a document fully accessible
and help demonstrate how to do this using your familiar authoring tools.

*** Course begins May 7.

Read more about the course online and you can also register online:

block quote end

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
kestrell: (Default)
A post in which a media studies professor describes the results of an assignment in which college students had to find a print resource not available online and then scan it, run it through OCR, and upload it to the Internet.
The big epiphany: it's hard!
I don't think you need to be teaching media studies to find this an interesting assignment, as it would also demonstrate how little non-mainstream, non-bestseller, and indie literature is not online, and how that would shape what people read, and even what people are aware of as potential reading.
kestrell: (Default)
This is going to sound crazy, but is the Network for Good Web site accessible? I've been trying to find the link for Four Paws for Ability, and I can't seem to locate the search results.
kestrell: (Default)
I've been wanting to try Spotify for about a year, but accessibility reports kept giving Spotify completely negative reviews, and yesterday, when I attempted to download the program from the Spotify Web site, my screen reader crashed. However, recently Spotfy came out with a Facebook interface (there is also an iPhone app, which I've heard is accessible in the premium version). After much poking around, I tink it is possible to use the Spotify Facebook with some accessibility using Jaws, but it is still probably more for the adventurous user who doesn't mind exploring and trying out different things with Jaws.

This is what I did:
I went to the mobile Facebook site
and searched for the Spotify Facebook page, then read through some posts until I found a link to a playlist I thought looked interesting, The "Trick or Treat" Halloween playlist
and clicked on the link to the playlist. The site prompted me to download Spotify, so I saved the program file on my computer, then clicked to install it using my Facebook username and password to log on to Spotify. However, this did require quite a bit of switching between the Jaws and the PC cursor. There was some other stuff to fill in, like your birthday, and also a checkbox which is checked int he default to share what you play on Spotify to Facebook. I admit, Alexx helped with this last bit, but I think it could be done without sighted assistance with some more trial and error.

So once I was logged on to Spotify, I went back to the Spotify Facebook page and clicked on the playlist title, then I used shift+tab in Jaws and hit enter, and the playlist began to play.

At some point, Spotify opens its own window, so there will be the two windows open, the Facebook page with the title of the playlist in the title bar and the Spotify window. There are some keyboard shortcuts which show up by using the alt key to bring up menus.
Hitting the spacebar toggles play and stop.
To go to the next track, press control+right arrow; to go back to the previous track, press control+left arrow (these commands are also available from the keyboard menus).
If you use your Jaws cursor, you can find the title and artist of the currently playing track, although Jaws will also speak this at some point.
At somepoint, there were a few different versions of Jaws scripts for Spotify, but all the links to those scripts are now strangely inactive.
kestrell: (Default)
Technology Review's summing up of reviews for the Nook ebook reader
mentions that the new device has a Read and Record function so that someone can record herself reading aloud to accompany a child reader as the child reads a book on the Nook.

While Technology Review called this feature "sad," I immediately thought of kisd with print disabilities--things like dyslexia, as opposed to vision impairments--as having an audio text to listen to while reading the print text is a common way to make reading more comprehensible for readers with print disabilities.

I'm a big advocate of getting kids with disabilities used to using technology as soon as possible--there are games now available for getting two-year-olds familiar with using a computer keyboard--both because the earlier you teach a kid something, the more intuitively they will use it, and getting kids hooked on books is a prime example of this.
kestrell: (Default)
Frankly, I've come to view Google's announcements that they are committed to accessibility with a certain level of cynicism. I don't even get that peeved about it anymore, but instead am more curious to come to some understanding of why Google developers and I seem to have such different definitions of the word "accessibility." The following link offers the explanation that it isn't a semantics issue, it's a design issue, and that issue has implications beyond just eh affect on people with disabilities.

block quote start
But when we take the stance that we know how to design the perfect product for everyone, and believe you me, I hear that a lot, then we're being fools.
You can attribute it to arrogance, or naivete, or whatever -- it doesn't matter in the end, because it's foolishness. There IS no perfect product for everyone.

And so we wind up with a browser that doesn't let you set the default font size. Talk about an affront to Accessibility. I mean, as I get older I'm actually going blind. For real. I've been nearsighted all my life, and once you hit 40 years old you stop being able to see things up close. So font selection becomes this life-or-death thing: it can lock you out of the product completely. But the Chrome team is flat-out arrogant here: they want to build a zero-configuration product, and they're quite brazen about it, and Fuck You if you're blind or deaf or whatever. Hit Ctrl-+ on every single page visit for the rest of your life.

It's not just them. It's everyone. The problem is that we're a Product Company through and through. We built a successful product with broad appeal --
our search, that is -- and that wild success has biased us.
block quote end

reposted at
kestrell: (Default)
This one
is dated July 31, 2011, but I was wondering if accessibility has been improved since then.
kestrell: (Default)
When I tried installing this earlier this year when it first came out, I kept having an issue with Windows Journal Viewer that repeatedly interrupted the install process. Finally, last week I just uninstalled Windows Journal Viewer and the install completed.

Since then, I've been enjoying Amazon Kindle ebooks, but the Kindle format is not going to become my favorite format anytime soon, because accessibility is still pretty limited.

Basically, the Kindle ebooks are accessible in that they can be read aloud using the combination of the user's own screenreader and the Nuance text-to-speech engine included in the Kindle accessibility plug-in.

However, the user can only listen to the ebook, not access the text itself. Thus, as in the case of the art book I was reading, I couldn't find out how an artist's name or an art term was spelled. Also, one can only read by page or by sentence, so taking notes means you have to keep repeating an entire sentence until you get the words or quotes you want written down in another file.

The TTS also seems to insert lengthy pauses for white space, so sometimes I think it is done and scroll to the next page before the currant page is fully done being read. To scroll to the next page, one presses the right arrow, then hits control+r to read the page, although sometimes just pressing the spacebar reads the page. Control+shift+right arrow reads the next sentence, control+shift+left arrow reads the previous sentence. I find that I get less stutter when I read by sentence than when I read by page, which seems to sometimes jumble words.

I don't consider this restricted level of access to be sufficient for reading educational textbooks, but it does suit my very specific need to access art books, which are often too designy to scan easily, and the Kindle ebooks are often less expensive than the print books I would have to spend hours scanning. Also, of course, I can only read the Kindle ebooks on my PC, not my preferred reading device.

Bottom line: Kindle for PC with accessibility plug-in is worth trying out, although I recommend the user try playing wih some free Kindle ebooks before spending money on Kindle ebooks. Amazon still has a ways to go in making he Kindle for PC app fully accessible, bu it's definitely showing promise.

Amazon Kindle for PC with accessibility plugin download
help and FAQ
AccessWorld review
kestrell: (Default)
Panel: Book Design and Typography in the Digital Era.
Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld Magazine
and author of the highly informative essay, "This is My Life on Ebooks"
Erin Kissane
author of _Elements of Content Strategy_, available in both paper and ebook formats
David G. Shaw, Alicia "Kestrell" Verlager
Edited later: Apologies for getting a panelist name wrong, the panelist was actually Ken Liu
who read from an article he wrote about the transition from codex to scroll
and the blog David recommended for more on ebooks and accessible Web design was Joe Clark's blog"

This panel is mostly a blur in my memory, although I remember David and others recommending a number of useful resources, such as A List Apart, and the book which Erin just published. David pointed out Cory Doctorow's collaborative publishing effort in his latest collection, with footnotes mentioning the names of readers who pointed out typos and other errata. We also encouraged the audience to be active consumers and producers by making complaints to publishers when the formats they need aren't available and, on the part of writers and editors trying to be part of the decisionmaking process as to in which formats the ebook versions of their books are being issued. This isn't always easy, as often authors and editors aren't kept in the loop of these decisions. An example of this surfaced when I mentioned to Ellen Datlow that I can find ebook versions of some of her anthologies at Baen Books, and she wasn't aware that the anthologies were available through that site.
Baen Books Webscriptions-New Arrivals page (includes link to Best Horror of the Year 3)
Ellen Datlow page

Also, after the panel Alexx and I went to the book room and I sought out the table for the university press which published the newest edition of Samuel R. Delany's nonfiction essay collection, _The Jewel-Hinged Jaw_, with an introduction by Matthew Cheney, and the rep was glad to find out that the publisher could donate the electronic files for books to, which works with many publishers to make books, including textbooks and literary criticism, accessible to visually impaired students and readers. Small Beer Press and ChiZine Press were there selling both paper books and ebooks, as they have done for a number of years now, and there was also a magazine called Crossed Genres which offered an ebook bundle for $20, which included two novels, two anthologies, and a year's subscription to Crossed Genres
. The works come in a variety of DRM-free formats, and the co-publishers who were there said I could contact hem if none of those formats turned out to be accessible, and they would send HTML files.

It was a pretty awesome experience to know that I would have ebooks waiting for me whenever I wanted to read them, as opposed to having a pile of books which I would have to scan by hand (not that I didn't indulge in some paper books also, mostly because Alexx found me a book about books).
kestrell: (Default)
went, I think, extremely well, as all the panelists were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. I'll probably write a bit more about this panel at some later point when I have more info at hand, as opposed to being kind of burned out and waiting for Chinese food to arrive, but after the panel I went to the Book Shop, where a number of publishers were advertising that they sold ebooks, also (go Crossed Genres! go ChiZine!), and I managed to provide a university press with the info that is the perfect way for university presses to distribute their books to students with disabilities.
Alexx mentioned after we had left the panel that it looked as if some people might have wanted to ask me questions: if you are someone who wanted to ask a question or know osmeone who wanted to ask a question, feel free to post here or e-mail me privately through LJ.
kestrell: (Default)
Has anyone bought and used a Google ebook ?
Added later: never mind, I just found
the appropriate Web page for Google accessibility
and the anser is "no." I continue to be boggled by how the Amazon Kindle and Google ebooks manage to still not be accessible to people who use screen readers.
kestrell: (Default)
From the announcement posted to mailing lists:

block quote start
EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information) has just created a short
pamphlet to help computer support staff who work, at least periodically, with students with disabilities. Frequently these staff have little
experience working with this population, and this 7-page pamphlet strives to make the interaction less stressful for the staff and more helpful for the students.

Here are the topics covered in the pamphlet:

Introduction Your attitude can make a big difference
Tips on dealing with people with disabilities
General tips
Some Helpful tips for specific disability types
Visual Impairments
Hearing Impairments
Mobility Impairments
Upper body motor impairments
Learning and cognitive Disabilities
Finding resources
Note on service dogs

It can be downloaded free from the Internet and shared with your colleagues:

block quote end
kestrell: (Default)
I've been thinking about possibly making the switch to a Mac at some point in the future and, although I've been researching hese questions, I still don't have a clear answer, so I'm hoping my knowledgeable friends can give me more definite answers.

Does Voiceover work with the following programs and formats:

Also, are there any Voiceover users out there who do a lot of scanning and OCR use and, if so, what program and hardware are you using? I'm really not keen on the Docuscan approach of having to send everything I scan to the Internet.
kestrell: (Default)
Kes: Wikipedia has a good article on sans serif
which includes some great links re sans serif's long association with blind people and accessibility (I'm including the definition for those who may not be clear on what sans serif means).

block quote start
In typography, a sans-serif or sans serif typeface is one that does not have the small features called 'serifs" [projecting outward] at the end of strokes. The term comes from the Latin word for "sign," via the French word sans meaning "without."

....In 1786, a rounded sans-serif font was developed by
Valentin Haüy
[who established the first school for the blind]
first appeared in the book titled "Essai sur l'éducation des aveugles" (An Essay on the Education of the Blind).
The purpose of this font was to be invisible and address accessibility. It was designed to emboss paper and allow the blind to read with their fingers. The design was eventually known as Haüy type.
block quote end

To read more about this first tactile book produced for blind people, go to
and this Web page includes descriptions of a number of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century blind people who developed their own writing systems
For more on personal preference in typography, check out this excellent article which is part of a series on typography
For more on sans serif typefaces, go to


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