Global Accessibility Awareness Day
May 9, 2013 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Accessibility is what allows me to use things like a phone, computer, or an ATM. May 9th is all about this. -Tommy Edison, the Blind Film Critic. (previously)
Global Accessibility Awareness Day is today. It's a day to consider how people with disabilities experience the web, software, mobile devices, games and so on, targeted towards designers, developers, usability professionals and others without much experience with accessibility. There are public events scheduled all over the world, as well as other accessibility-related events. To participate on your own, try one of the suggested activities: turn off your mouse or trackpad and use only your keyboard to navigate websites, try using a free screen reader, such as NVDA for Windows or the built in VoiceOver for Mac and iOS, try watching some streaming videos or movies with captions or add some of your own to a video you've uploaded. Then relax with a sample of described video: Katniss, from the Hunger Games, goes hunting.

More information about GAAD and accessibility:

A short video about GAAD from its founder, Jennison Asuncion, and a 2010 interview with Asuncion, part 1, 2 and 3. His personal Twitter feed, and the official GAAD twitter feed.

The post that inspired GAAD, by Joe Devon.

What can be done to make games more accessible? Includification provides some guidelines.

AppleVis is one of the best resources for blind and low vision Apple device users. Apple devices are very popular with this community, as many other devices have a long way to go as far as accessibility goes. However, Amazon, long criticized for the Kindle's total lack of accessibility, has just added VoiceOver support to the Kindle iOS app. A review of the app here.
posted by shirobara (10 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm gonna look over some of these things, thanks. I write about tech and science and I rarely see advances in accessibility. Entire businesses being built on trivial conveniences, and so little devoted to the millions who can't hear, speak, write, see, etc.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:04 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm all in favor of accessibility, but the idea of a "described video" version of The Hunger Games seems really weird to me, given that the film is an adaptation of a book, and not only that, a highly visual adaptation of that book. The director tried to translate the prose into images, and now you're turning it back into different prose. It reminds me of all those jokes about translating English phrases into Russian and then back into English. Can one of Metafilter's visually impaired users weigh in on this? Does the described video have value that isn't provided by the audiobook?
posted by baf at 10:16 AM on May 9, 2013

As a very occasional visually impaired user, I will certainly weigh in. The adaptation is distinct, it's use of sound, music, and story quite different from an audiobook, well read or not. Moreover, I am happy to have access to such a thing at all. Perhaps the choice of clip for this post was unfortunate, but the fact remains that watching described film is one of my favorite passtimes. I am grateful that more movie theaters in particular seem to be carrying them these days, along with the equipment necessary to enjoy them.
posted by Alensin at 10:26 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I rarely see advances in accessibility.

Oh, this is my field. I do the open-source WebbIE web browser for blind people. I think the problem is not that there is a lack of new stuff, it's that we are poor in progressing the implementation of known solutions. We know that label elements and alt attributes in HTML are useful, but it's a pain to do them. We know that we should add captions to our videos, but who has the time? We know that we should make sure that sites are readable when zoomed up, but who wants to find the right WordPress template? We know that web pages and apps should work when all you have are the tab and enter keys, but what about our fab drag-and-drop Javascript UI?

I don't think innovation is the problem. I think motivation is.
posted by alasdair at 10:49 AM on May 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

Another VI user here. I never cared for descriptive video. I always felt it detracted from the soundscape of the film itself. That being said, I understand why other VI users find it valuable. I always found it more convenient to ask someone I'm with to tell me the particulars of something I might have missed, and considering I can't stand movie theaters for reasons entirely unrelated to visual impairment, this doesn't interfere with anybody's enjoyment of the film in question. Now if we could find a way to easily key text to speech into a digital copy of a movie for the purposes of reading subtitles, I would probably tolerate that. As of yet, I don't know if that can be done. But sub files are available, so I don't see why it couldn't work.

Thanks for this post. I didn't even know there was a day for this sort of thing.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 10:53 AM on May 9, 2013

I recently saw a salesman at Radio Shack try to sell a new LCD TV to a blind woman. She came in, with her service dog, asking for a way to make her iPhone louder so she could listen to shows on Netflix around the house. I chatted with her for a few minutes after she refused to spend $300 on a completely unnecessary TV set. She told me all about how the iPhone had changed her life -- in addition to listening to shows on Netflix, she can navigate town using the GPS in a way she never had before. It was really fascinating. Shame about the jerk of a salesman though, he should go back to selling refrigerators to disabled Eskimos.
posted by miyabo at 11:29 AM on May 9, 2013

I think the lack of availability of subtitles and captioning on streaming video from commercial providers borders on the criminal. If the TV or film you're streaming has captions when it gets broadcast on TV and subtitles when it gets released on home video, what is the excuse for not providing captions when it's streamed online? This is the status quo, and it's shameful.
posted by kjh at 12:39 PM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I read this as Global Accessibility Awesomeness Day. if only.
posted by theora55 at 12:42 PM on May 9, 2013

I'm stealing this from an answer I posted on Quora about how smartphones could be helpful to visually impaired users:

There's a pretty poignant story about how an iPhone colour-matching app helped a visually-impaired person "see" the sunset for the first time...

My First Week with the iPhone

And some more thoughts on the role of smartphones helping out visually impaired people...

A Blind Man’s Life Changed Forever by iPhone & App Store

posted by Jaybo at 2:23 PM on May 9, 2013

I have a severe physical disability and, fortunately, have no problem using the web on a desktop computer with the right adaptive hardware. My iPhone and iPad are another story. I can't use them at all without physical assistance. I long for the day when I can read a book on my iPad without constantly asking someone to turn the page.
posted by wintermute2_0 at 4:23 PM on May 9, 2013

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