Sunday, November 23, 2008

How do I know?

Tēnā koutou katoa - Greetings to you allA bus, perhaps how it would appear to the visually impaired.
Several discussions in recent months have prompted me to think of ways to assist the visually impaired to access blogs and websites. This topic can spark intense emotions in some people, usually the sighted. It is very much open to misinterpretation of intentions, so please be patient with me as you read this post. I am just a learner.

Odiogo - a useful application?

Only recently, I installed Odiogo by way of a trial. This is part of my intention to find ways of making access to the Net easier for those potential readers who are visually impaired. Many such people, who are web active, obtain access to web and blog sites through the use of assistive technologies.

The quality of the audio presented by Odiogo is reasonable and may well be better than some downloadable screen-readers. Comments are not picked up, however, and in this respect the facility falls well short of being useful for any reader who wishes to participate in discussion. This is a biggie as far as I’m concerned.

I am still unsure of how useful Odiogo could be to the visually impaired. I’d appreciate your help if you are familiar with the use of this technology, particularly if you have experience of its use by the visually impaired.

Middle-earth blogspot’s a bit different:

You may have noticed a few things different around my blog recently. For instance, I no longer use links in my posts that directly open the linked site in a new tab or window – I’m still amending a few odd links in earlier posts. Opening a new window can be confusing for the visually impaired who follow text on a post with a screen reader. Another is that related-post links will be found at the bottom of my posts from now on.

Here are some other things I’ve learnt so far about blog posts and screen readers:


It’s possible for a screen reader to describe the content of an image in a blog or web page. This can be useful, especially of the image is referred to in the text. Information about the image can provide some relevance to what’s read in the text and has the potential to be helpful.

But this depends entirely on the text contained in the so-called alt attribute in the html code associated with the image. Without this, the image has an invisible attribute. Such text should describe the image appropriately and explicitly for it to be of any use to the reader.

The alt attribute of an image used in a post is accessible through the html of the post. It is found in the image tag and can have the form shown here:
src="The image address on the site." alt="The explicit info about the image."

Click here for more:

A link should have a link-label that’s relevant to what is linked to, so that the reader understands what to expect. The common ‘click here’ and ‘more ’ link-labels do not convey anything useful and can actually be confusing to the person trying to interpret what they’re looking at.

I guess a similar rule applies to link-labels as to image alt attributes. There is also the advantage that a well-labeled link or image is picked up more readily as useful content by search engines and can be an asset to the blogger.

Blogroll position:

I didn’t realise that the position of the blogroll was so problematic. Apparently blogrolls located to the left of the page cause problems. Blogrolls should be located on the right of the page.

There are other parameters that can affect post readability for the visually impaired. Good summaries of those can be found at the American Foundation for the Blind web-site. Among the useful information there, is a page on How to Make Your Blog Accessible to Blind Readers and another on Improving Your Web Site’s Accessibility.

If you have any information on Odiogo - good or less so - that might be of use to others, please add a comment under this post. As well, if you have any tips you may have on adjusting a blog so that it improves access to the visually impaired, put them in a comment here. I’d really appreciate that.

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Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

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