An increasingly common solution offered by companies that receive complaints about the inaccessibility of their web sites is to create an alternative site that they claim will accommodate users who are blind or visually impaired and the growing number of people who surf the web using their cell phones. Ironically, the very small screens of cell phones have drawn attention to problems screen reader users know well, such as cluttered pages filled with repetitive and unlabeled links and the long download time of graphics.
Stephanie Bassler, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of De Witt & Associates and Enablelink.com, reviews Amazon Access, an alternative version of Amazon.com's web site. As an expert on web accessibility and a sighted person familiar with the use of screen readers, Bassler explains the differences between the two sites, tests Amazon.com and Amazon Access to determine differences in functionality, and speaks with company officials about why the alternative site was created.
In the rest of the issue, Debbie Cook, Project Director of the Washington State Assistive Technology Alliance, presents a comprehensive round-up of where we are with cell phone access. She visited service providers—Verizon, AT&T, Cingular, and Sprint, and manufacturers—Panasonic, Motorola, Qualcom, and Nokia. This article documents which companies are or are not committed to developing accessible products, and tells us once again that we must keep pushing them to give us products that we can use. James A. Kutsch, Jr., Ph.D., Vice President of Technology for a global leader in outsourced customer service and billing, presents the first of a two-part series on building a home computer network.
Kevin Dusling and Mark Uslan review off-the-shelf Global Positioning Systems (GPS).
Cathy Anne Murtha, California-based online access technology specialist, offers important advice for access technology trainers. Deborah Kendrick interviews Larry Lewis, the new Product Marketing Manager, BrailleNote Family with the New Zealand-based Pulse Data International (PDI) Ltd.
Deborah also relays a cautionary tale about how anyone can be stricken with a computer virus.
Jay Leventhal, Editor in Chief
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