IBM Technology Assists Visually Impaired Internet Users
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Uploaded on Jul 8, 2008
IBM's Social Accessibility project is a way for visually impaired and sighted users to come together and make web sites more accessible for people with vision loss. IBM developed collaboration software that enables visually impaired users to post problems they are having with web sites, and others can help by providing better text descriptions. The text descriptions can then incorporated into the screen reading software used by visually impaired web site visitors.
For example, a person using screen reading software filling out an airline mileage membership application form might be unable to figure out if they should type in family name first, then first name and middle initials. Whenever visually impaired users face such difficulties, they can report that incident by using the collaboration tool and ask for an improved alternative text to describe what users are asked to do. Any one joining the project can provide a better description such as, Type in family name first, then first name and middle initials.
With the Internet's pervasiveness it is important that people with disabilities are not left out. Moreover, the Internet is often a way for people to remain connected to their families and the community at large. In addition, as workers turn older, vision loss is one of the first disabilities people will face. Its estimated that one in five individuals, or over 54 million Americans, has a disability that makes it difficult to see computer screens or navigate the Web.
The most important nature of this initiative is that this model allows users to give an opportunity to make content accessibility improvement requests, which is extremely valuable to help improve the Web content accessibility, and enabling Internet users who wish to aid in improving Internet accessibility to respond. The website also offers a forum to discuss accessibility issues among visually impaired users and Internet users.
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