Dear AccessWorld Editor,

This message is in reference to Deborah Kendrick's August 2019 article, A Profile of Dr. Daniel Zingaro, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto.

Hello AccessWorld team. Thank you for highlighting a Canadian. And yay braille! Thanks for continuing to produce in-depth articles on a variety of topics. Great source of information for a self-confessed information hound.

Debbie Gillespie

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

This message is in reference to J.J. Meddaugh’s August 2019 article, An Introduction to Slack, A Popular Chat App for Teams and Workplaces.

I’m astonished by this article, which appears to give credit to the Slack team as being “accessible.” As a blind director at a large tech company I find Slack to be extremely poor in design when it comes to accessibility. I’ve spoken personally with Todd K at Slack and with C-Suite individuals at Vispero. Productivity in Slack as compared to Outlook and Teams is no comparison. I deal with hundreds of emails and thousands of Slack messages per day. I can go through 10x the number of emails as I can Slack messages.

For example, it was just a few months ago that pressing Num Lock for JAWS usage wouldn’t move the cursor to the message box and cause the loss of position.

Major issues still exist, including the following:

  • When using ZoomText Fusion characters disappear from messages. If verbose, JAWS can even read that the character was pressed, only to find that the character isn’t there.

  • Users have to listen to entire messages to tell if there are new replies.

  • The need to scroll messages to the first or last of the day to know what day the message occurred.

  • Each message has the user name and icon read every time. It is a waste of time to have to hear] “John Doe Pancakes Emoji” every time in a direct message.

  • Users can’t set message notifications to always go to iOS. This means if you are working in an application and Slack gives you a notice it will go to the computer you are working on. If you are typing, you won’t hear JAWS read the message so now you need to hunt it down, sometimes to find it was just a bad usage of @here.

The biggest problem I have with this article is that companies...may see this as an endorsement by AFB and not go any further in accessibility assessment or review before procuring something like Slack. Myself and one other visually impaired user both agree that we’re getting left out of conversations because Slack is simply very poor in terms of productivity for the blind.

I’d recommend in your October edition that you do a comparison with Outlook in terms of productivity for blind users. Point out the major bugs and let companies know that while a blind user “can” use Slack, the user is likely not going to be as productive as they otherwise could be and therefore Slack shouldn’t be allowed in any organization that values the Disability Equality Index.

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

This message is in reference to Aaron Preece’s February 2014 article, An In-depth Evaluation of the BARD Mobile App from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

I hope you can help us find a good forum that can serve users of the BARD Mobile app to voice their issues with the application.

Although I agree that this app is valuable for vision-limited people to search and obtain audio books and related materials, it remains at best a beta version, with significant challenges for visually impaired individuals.

I have worked over the years on a variety of platforms for education and am quite surprised that this application was released in its current form for general use before it was obviously ready for “prime time”. I have worked with a family member who is visually impaired over the past two months and found so many impediments to even the simplest and most routine procedures. It seems quite apparent that real tests of menus and procedures and related navigation were sorely needed to refine and trouble-shoot text, graphics, and instructions.

We would be pleased to discuss some of our concerns and hear of efforts to improve this valuable application.

Richard Winn

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

This message is in reference to Aaron Preece’s September 2019 article, Recent Advancements Make Dungeons and Dragons More Accessible to People with Visual Impairments.

Thank you for publishing this wonderful article! I have played various role-playing games for 20 years, and I have been actively playing D&D for over two years. I play both face-to-face and online games. I play with sighted people, and I keep track of my characters the same way the author does. Gaming is one way my husband and I spend our leisure time together.

I am so glad the core books are available. I begged Bookshare to make them available about two years ago, and I am surprised and pleased that they are available from NLS.

I use a different dice roller for iOS that is very accessible. I also play online, but it is not the most accessible platform, so I need my husband’s help.

I really enjoy playing D&D, and it is great that mainstream games are so accessible now. Please continue publishing great articles like this one.


Kasondra Payne

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

I just read the latest issue of AccessWorld. Each month I either read it on my iPhone or on my desktop. I used to be able to find a link to the next article at the bottom of the previous one and it seems that method of moving to the next article or the table of contents is no longer available. I now need to go back to my email and access the link for the article I want to read. Is there an easier way to access the next article or the table of contents that I am missing? Why are these links no longer available?

Bonnie O’Day

Response from AccessWorld Managing Editor, Aaron Preece:

Hello Bonnie,

These links were lost in the transition to the new AFB page templates earlier this year, but will return when the redesigned AccessWorld site is launched. As of September 2019, we have restored the link to the table of contents at the end of each article. Find it just after the “More by this author” section.

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