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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 November 2009 Issue  Volume 10  Number 6

Editor's Page

After Ten Great Years, We're Excited about the Future and We're Making AccessWorld Even Better

As we complete the tenth year of AccessWorld, the web-based magazine you've come to know and love, we are planning to make some changes that we hope will make your experience even better. One major enhancement will be to engage you, our readers, more directly in the discussion of technology accessibility. We're also working on a plan to publish content more frequently; we hope to make AccessWorld a monthly early in 2010.

Since its inception, AccessWorld has been published bimonthly, first as a subscription in various formats and since 2003, free on the AFB web site. For several years, we have offered an e-mail brief called AccessWorld Extra. The time seems right to move to a monthly schedule which will mean we will stop sending out the Extra. However, a more frequent publication schedule will be especially useful in enabling us to bring you news about new developments more rapidly. In order to ensure the right level of detail and quality in the articles, the monthly issues will have fewer articles than the current bimonthly issues, but over the year, we expect a roughly similar amount of material.

While the monthly schedule will allow us to share news and product reviews sooner, we also want to be careful not to spoil what our readers say they appreciate about AccessWorld. A few months back, we asked readers to respond to a survey regarding future directions for AccessWorld. We received around 150 responses to the questions in part 1 of that survey, and approximately 50 dedicated souls went on to complete part 2.

Many of the comments we received were quite positive about the mix of articles and quality of material in AccessWorld. We are pleased to have the affirmation. I was particularly pleased that our product evaluations seem to have about the right amount of detail for most of you, 62 percent, while nearly equal numbers said they would like a little more detail (16 percent) or a little less detail (18 percent). Most of the product evaluations you read in AccessWorld are written by our very dedicated AFB TECH staff, and I know they put a great deal of work into their reviews. I also was heartened that so many of you seem to rely on AccessWorld for in-depth reporting. Nearly three quarters of those who responded to the survey indicated they would still read the detailed article even if we began providing more initial information through "breaking" news.

In responding to questions about the mix of content in AccessWorld, your choices were largely in the ballpark we might have expected. You are very interested in assistive technology, telecommunications, and information about web sites and web access. Well, we're interested in providing you just that kind of information as well. I was a bit surprised at the strength of interest in two other categories: operating systems (several survey respondents specifically mentioned interest in the MAC OS and Windows 7), and information about way-finding technologies. Information about training strategies and medical devices garnered lower scores, though still with strong support, so we will certainly continue to keep watch for important developments or opportunities in those areas. By the way, for those of you who did venture on and complete part 2 of the survey, we thank you for your persistence. In that area, we asked a few more questions to try to elicit more information about your interests. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, survey respondents showed high interest in articles about how to techniques and technology explanations. Somewhat surprisingly, product updates received a fairly low interest score.

Because we value the thoughts and voices of our readers, we're looking forward to providing you better ways to give us feedback, to comment on articles and hopefully even to interact with each other. We're still working this out, but this is in the plan. I'm also pleased to tell you that we will be providing more coverage of social networking and other interactive web content. I know that this is an area of increasing interest.

We'd been mulling the move to a monthly schedule for a while, and the results of the survey helped make it happen. We'll be drawing on the insights provided in the responses and more detailed comments that many shared. We appreciate that so many of you took time to share your thoughts with us.

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Copyright © 2009 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. AccessWorld is a trademark of the American Foundation for the Blind.

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