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Browse By Topic: Web Accessibility

How Does the Department of Justice's Withdrawal of Proposed Regulations Change How the ADA Applies to Websites?

On December 26, the Department of Justice (DOJ) officially withdrew pending rulemakings that would have clarified exactly how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to web services. In 2010, the DOJ started the rulemaking process to create new regulations for the websites of public accommodations and state and local governments. These "Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking" (ANPRMs) have now been withdrawn. For two different, but complementary, perspectives on this news, we recommend Lainey Feingold's excellent blog post, No ADA Web Accessibility Regs? No Excuses and the Seyfarth ADA Title III News & Insights

Celebrating Civil Rights for People with Disabilities

This week we celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) being signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. As many of you know, the ADA is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. This includes jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and

Join Us in Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Kirk Adams is president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. We are delighted to join our friends and colleagues in celebrating the sixth Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a day designed to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities. At the American Foundation for the Blind, we are committed to removing barriers, creating solutions, and expanding possibilities for people with visual impairments so they can achieve their full potential. Challenging the limits of technology is a vital part of our

If I Could Ask the Candidates: A Presidential Debate About Blindness and Visual Impairment

The upcoming presidential debates have me thinking about what I might ask the candidates if I were a debate moderator. It isn’t often that disability issues get front-and-center attention during a nationally televised event like a presidential debate, let alone issues specific to people who are blind or visually impaired. But what if they did? Would I use my opportunity to ask the candidates about their position on the payment of subminimum wages to people with disabilities? Would I ask them about the need to ensure that people with disabilities have an unequivocal and supported right to full

Beyond Recognition: What Machines Don't Read

Helen Keller reading braille at her home in Westport, Connecticut. October 1965. I am delighted that the fifth in our series of posts focusing on the Helen Keller Digitization Project is from Mara Mills New York University Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication. Mara’s post - on the continued importance of human transcribers - is fascinating and I encourage everyone to read it. Many thanks Mara! On Helen Keller’s birthday this year, archivist Helen Selsdon wrote a piece for the

Checking in from the CTIA Super Mobility Conference

Paul Schroeder, AFB Vice President, Programs and Policy This week in Las Vegas it's everything wireless at the CTIA Super Mobility conference. CTIA, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, hosts the show and notably also hosts an Accessibility Outreach Initiative Forum as part of the conference. I am pleased to participate in the forum and express appreciation to CTIA for making it possible to attend. I thought I'd share some of the points from the forum on September 7. AFB has been collecting the views of people with vision loss through a series of

The ADA Anniversary: What We're Not Celebrating

This year marks the 26th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each year, advocates look for ways in which to properly commemorate the ADA and to celebrate the promise of equal access that it represents. We at the American Foundation for the Blind are also weighing in, not only with praise for the barriers that the ADA has broken down, but also with concern about the work that still needs to be done. We are deeply disappointed that we're celebrating yet another ADA anniversary without the long-overdue clarifications of the ADA's application to cyberspace that the Obama Administration promised us years ago. Sadly, the latest

When You Can't "Catch 'em All": Overcoming Social Isolation As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

Image: Left to right, William Reuschel stands with Aaron Preece, looking at an iPhone, while Aaron's guide dog, Joel, appears to look for a Pidgey. It's time to dust off the old Gameboy, find the faded trading cards, and watch cartoons starring Ash Ketchum because Pokémon is making a HUGE comeback. The makers of Pokémon, Nintendo America, in cooperation with Niantic Labs, have introduced a new mobile app game, Pokémon Go. This international craze has taken over the world. It is in the news, on social media, and all over town. But what

Accessibility in Digital Publishing: Notes from a Summit

New federal regulations on accessibility for digital and web publishing are expected to have a significant impact on the publishing industry. The American Foundation for the Blind was pleased to co-sponsor, and AFB staff were pleased to attend, a summit on accessibility in publishing, along with many other publishers and accessibility experts, hosted by the Center for Publishing Innovation. Discussions included the impact of revisions to Section 508 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the

Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2016

May 19 marks the fifth celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Daya day designed to “get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.” This year has seen some exciting developments in accessibility. Facebook,

Reflections of a First-Time Attendee at the Web For All Conference

Crista Earl, AFB's Director of Web Operations, and I were excited to attend the Web For All (W4A) Conference this year, in Montreal, Canada to share information about the AFB Accessible Video Player. Web accessibility is an important part of our work at the American Foundation for the Blind. We are committed to making our website and all of our productsfrom

Four Ways Google Is Building a More Accessible World for the Visually Impaired

On the heels of major accessibility announcements from Twitter and Facebook, tech giant Google recently highlighted its own efforts to build a more inclusive world for people with disabilities. Here are four ways Google is working to improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired: 1.

Facebook Launches Its Own Approach to Making Photos Accessible to Blind Users

Today, Facebook announced a new feature, "automatic alternative text": Using Artificial Intelligence to Help Blind People ‘See’ Facebook. The feature takes advantage of Facebook's object recognition technology to offer people using VoiceOver on iPhones or iPads a description of their friends' photos. The descriptions are coded as alt text, a standard HTML attribute that allows web designers to provide text alternatives for images. "This step toward automatically describing photos helps those of us who are blind or visually

Big News: Twitter Is Adding Alt Text for Images

Twitter released a blog post today announcing Accessible Images for Everyone. The post explains, "Starting today, people using our iOS and Android apps can add descriptions also known as alternative text (alt text) to images in Tweets," and goes on to describe how to enable the new feature. “We applaud Twitter’s access efforts. Tens of thousands of people who are blind or visually impaired use Twitter every day, and they will be excited to use and benefit from this increased level of accessibility,” says Lee Huffman,

Apps Can and Should Be Accessible to All

The Washington Post published an article today about accessibility problems that occur not only on companies' websites, but in their mobile applications (apps), noting that "Apps can be a game-changer for people with low vision if companies build them right." TechCrunch also recently reported on the question: Will apps become the next disability lawsuit target? They don't have to be. As Lee Huffman, AccessWorld editor and manager of AFB's technology information, explained: "The iPhone has become a great equalizer for

Stevie Wonder Calls for Accessibility at Last Night’s Grammys—Bravo, Stevie!

I am still applauding Stevie Wonders call for accessibility at last nights Grammys; it was fabulous. First, he made everyone laugh when he teased the audience with a na na nana nayall cant read this huh? referring to the fact that the Song of the Year winner was written in braille. And then right before he announced Thinking Out Loud as Song of the Year, he said, We need to make

Inside the Helen Keller Digitization Project - "I Never Knew That!"

We are delighted to present the first of the many blog posts that will appear over the next two years as part of the Helen Keller Digitization Project. We are kicking off with a post by Kim E. Nielsen, professor of Disability Studies at the University of Toledo, and Helen Keller expert. Enjoy! Every year my spring is marked by phone calls, emails, letters and Skype conversations about Helen Keller initiated by nervous middle- and high-school students. These participants in National History Day, an annual program

10 Accessibility Resources in Honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD)

In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, please enjoy and share these resources, and add your own suggestions in the comments! 1. AccessWorld(r)AFB's free online magazine is devoted to technology news for people who are blind or visually impaired. AccessWorld keeps people with vision loss and their families, teachers, rehabilitation counselors, product developers and manufacturers up to date about the technologies that can transform their lives: smart glasses, fitness tools, mobile apps,

An Accessible HTML5 Video Player from the American Foundation for the Blind

var height = 390; var width = 640; videoId = "T1shAMtMj5w"; //en - english, es - spanish var lang = "en"; var testEl = document.createElement("video"), bmpeg4, bh264, bogg, bwebm; var utube = ""; var mp4 = ""; var ogg = ""; var webm = ""; var track = ""; if (testEl.canPlayType) { // Check for MPEG-4 support bmpeg4 = "" !== testEl.canPlayType('video/mp4; codecs="avc1.42E01E,

The Need for Access: AFB Testimony on Intellectual Property Law

Note: The following is testimony made by Mark Richert, AFB's director of public policy, on how copyright law affects those with vision loss. For a primer on this topic, please see All Rights ReservedHow Copyright Law Can Leave People Who Are Blind Out. Video of this testimony is also available from the U.S. House of Representatives. Before the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Hearing on Chapter 12 of Title 17

Can CAPTCHAs Be Made Accessible?

Lots of websites have a real and urgent need to keep bots and spammers off their sites. One partial solution is the CAPTCHA. What Is a CAPTCHA, and Can It Be Accessible? Really, a CAPTCHA is any technique that can be used to tell a computer (bot) from a human. But the most common technique is to put a fuzzy bunch of characters on the page and ask the user to type them into an edit field. A human, theoretically, can decipher the fuzzy characters, but a bot cannot. This has some obvious flaws in it, even if you've never seen these things (or didn't

AFB Launches an App for AFB CareerConnect and It's FREE!

You might be excited or just ecstatic that the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has just launched the CareerConnect App with some of your favorite features of the CareerConnect resource center. Hold your applause and high-pitched sounds of jubilation for the full deal on this momentous occasion. Am I hyping this app? Oh, yes! But I will tell you that this launch is just the beginning of more great things to come. AFB has worked hard to include some of the new and exciting features that vision professionals, job seekers, youth, and parents of children who are blind or visually impaired use from CareerConnect. The CareerConnect App includes four main tabs, and it follows the model of the widely used AccessWorld App (a free monthly technology magazine that

Making the Helen Keller Archival Collection Accessible to Everyone

Image: Helen Keller with children in Adelaide, Australia, 1948 The American Foundation for the Blind is committed to promoting the life and legacy of Helen Keller. We are the proud caretakers of her archival collection of over 80,000 items including documents, photographs, photograph albums, press clippings, scrapbooks, architectural drawings, artifacts and audio-video materials. The archives were first made available to researchers during the 1970s. Since then, historians, writers, film makers, school children and the general public have had access to these extraordinary materials. However this amazing resource remains

Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Finding Good Examples

For today, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I'll try to answer a question I get a lot: "What can I send this webmaster to give examples of how to fix a broken site?" Here's what happens. You are a user of assistive technology, or a person who has low vision and benefits from well-designed, well-executed websites (have I described everybody? Who doesn't benefit from things being done right?). You visit a site that is important to youyour banking site, an e-commerce site where you want to shop, an online courseand you're shut out because of major accessibility obstacles. Maybe you

Usability and Accessibility Go Hand in Hand

I was delighted to see this article from the Nielsen Norman Group on why Placeholders in Form Fields Are Harmful. Placeholders are those words that lurk in your online forms, frequently an almost unreadable pale gray. The example the author provides in the article is a password field where the label "Password:" appears above the form field, and the hint "Must have at least 6 characters" appears as light gray placeholder text inside the form field. The intent is to help users, by giving an example of the type of information they are supposed to provide, or more details about what is required. The actual effect, however, is frequently one of the following: Sighted users may

Alert to AccessNote Users

iOS 7.1 is experiencing an issue that affects all VoiceOver users who are using a Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard. Apple is aware of the issue, and is presumably working on a bug fix. The problem stems from using the control key. After pressing the control key, it acts as if the control key is sticking, and all subsequent keyboard actions act as if the control key is being held down. This has a significantly detrimental effect on all iOS apps, but particularly impacts AccessNote users. If you are experiencing bizarre behavior when taking notes in AccessNote using iOS 7.1, then it is likely caused by this bug. Unfortunately there is nothing that we can do about this as developers, and we will have to wait for a bug fix from Apple. So for now, try to avoid using the control key

AFB Applauds the Adoption of the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 Recommendation

On March 20, 2014, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) took an important step to make web content and applications more accessible to people with disabilities by publishing Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation. WAI-ARIA defines ways that developers of browsers, media players, mobile devices and assistive technologies, as well as content developers, can achieve greater cross-platform accessibility. Learn more about WAI-ARIA. "ARIA is general tool which can be used to add accessibility to many different technologies," said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C

Window-Eyes for Office: Why Is This So Important?

Editor's note: the following post is authored by Mary Bellard, Information Technology Services Manager at AFB. On January 14, GW Micro announced, with support from Microsoft, they will make their Window-Eyes screen reader product available at no additional cost to any user with a license to Microsoft Office 2010 or newer (including users with a Microsoft Office 365 subscription). The only stipulation for using the full version of this product is that Office 2010 or newer needs to be installed and activated locally; users with access only to Microsoft Web Apps will be limited to a 30-minute version of the product. This version

Too Little, Too Late: On DOT’s New Rules for Air Travelers with Disabilities

So many of us who have been waiting for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to get off the dime and issue their long-awaited regulations on airline website and airport kiosk accessibility were excited this week to finally see them published. However, like so much it seems in the technology and civil rights for people with disabilities context, we are given relatively little and expected to gush with gratitude. That's certainly the case with these new DOT rules. Even though airlines have been repeatedly challenged to improve

Call for 2014 AFB Access Awards Nominations: Who Is Setting the Bar for Accessibility?

The American Foundation for the Blind is getting started with the AFB Access Awards process earlier than in past years, because the awards will be presented on February 28, 2014, at the AFB Leadership Conference in Brooklyn, NY. You will find everything you need on the Access Award Nomination Submission Guidelines and Format. Visit the Previous Access Award Winners page, too, and

IBM Research Raises the Bar on Accessibility

I consider myself lucky to attend a number of conferences specific to blindness, visual impairment, and technology. Well, at the 2013 AFB Leadership Conference, IBM Research just raised the bar for accessibility in my eyes. The innovative work they're doing to create accessibility options for educational videos got me out of my seat. I feel like I am now an IBM Research groupie. The work that Chieko Asakawa, Hiro Takagi, and Peter Fay presented on during the preconference and general conference is making video description and captioning for video content a realistic option for large

New Amazon Kindle App Shows Improved Accessibility

Readers of AccessWorld know that I have written several articles over the years condemning the lack of accessibility found in Amazon's Kindle devices. A couple of their devices have had some half-baked solutions for accessibility, and their mobile apps have never been accessible or usable at all. However, on May 1 we learned that Amazon's new update for the Kindle app for Apple's iOS mobile platform has improved accessibility for people with vision loss. We took a quick look at it on an iPhone 5 in our AFB Tech product evaluation labs this morning, and although there are still some things

Get Connected Through AFB's Message Boards

One issue people with disabilities often face (and, granted, this is sometimes self-imposed) is isolation. In the case of individuals who are blind or visually impaired, this could be related to mobility or transportation. The good news is, with technology, we have the opportunity to connect with others in so many different ways. The American Foundation for the Blind offers a whole collection of message boards covering all kinds of topics and for different audiences. These message boards are forums where registered users can post topics or reply to topics with

Wanted: Your Input for Upcoming AccessWorld Article

[Editor's note: the following post comes from Deborah Kendrick, Senior Features Editor for AccessWorld.] It's the dreaded call we all have to make at some point: contacting technical support for a mainstream commercial company, where we know we'll talk to a technician who has no clue how people who or blind or have low vision use a computer. My own experience has run the gamut. There was the guy for my internet service provider, talking to me all the way from India, who kept saying upon learning that I was blind, "I'm so

Survey Request: Travel Website Accessibility

Spring is in the air, and it is time to start thinking about upcoming vacation plans. Whether you will be traveling by plane, train, boat, or bus, there's a strong likelihood you'll be using travel websites and services to plan your trip. Online travel services, including travel aggregators such as Travelocity and Kayak, as well as hotel, airline, train, bus and ship websites, offer customers the convenience of comparison shopping, purchasing, and managing their travel from the convenience of their computer or mobile device. Have you had any difficulties accessing these types of online services? Or have

What do you think of our new site?

Earlier this week, we announced the launch of our new website (and if you're currently reading this blog post, perhaps you've noticed already). A lot of planning and work went into this project, and we wanted to take this opportunity to thank the many people who gave us feedback along the way. People who were losing their vision, or had been blind for years, along with family members, professionals, and members of the general publicall participated in the early card-sorting exercises that

Celebrate World Usability Day by Embracing Accessibility

World Usability Day (November 10, 2011) was founded in 2005 as an initiative of the Usability Professionals' Association to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use. Each year, on the second Thursday of November, over 200 events are organized in over 43 countries around the world to raise awareness for the general public, and train professionals in the tools and issues central to good usability research, development, and practice. The American Foundation for the Blind wholeheartedly supports the goals of World Usability Day. Technology should be easy to useby everybody,

Is It Time for National Public Radio to Update Its Website?

[Editor's note: The following post is authored by Marc Grossman, Accessibility Specialist, AFB Consulting.] A recent frustrating experience on NPR's website (and iPhone app) prompted the title of this blog post. Allow me to explain. A friend recently shared with me a link to the NPR story, "Blind Student Helps Make Denver Navigable For All." Sounded interesting, so I clicked on the link. The page was mostly accessiblebut certainly could use some

Online Shopping Makes for a Happy, Hassle-Free Holiday Season

Holiday shopping is right around the corner and this year I'm doing mine online. Long gone are the days of mile-long lines, busy sales clerks, and crowded stores; online shopping is convenient and hassle-free. One of the things I like most about shopping on the web is that the majority of sites contain useful descriptions of their products and are very accessible to people with vision loss. A recent review of online shopping sites in AccessWorld(r) shows that most e-tailers are actually ahead of the curve when it comes to accessibility. From Amazon to Gap to PetDiscounters, shopping sites are screen reader-friendly and, best of all, they are open 24 hours a day.