Accessible

Here is the thing.

I’ve got a friend who works with the blind and partially sighted.  Unaccessible websites drive her (rightfully) potty.

My web design skills are so poor that I’m not sure how accessible this website is for that sort of person, I’m not sure how screen readers and magnifiers cope with the design.

(I would change the design, but I haven’t a clue how to do so in order to make it more accessible).

So I had an idea, one that I don’t think anyone else is doing, and that is to podcast my reading of my posts.

Preferably at the same time I write them, but if I’m writing them at work, then as soon as I get home to where my (new) microphone is.

So if you have trouble reading my site, you can instead listen to me read it out.

So there will be two podcasts, a weekly one where I’ll talk about all different stuff, and this new one where you can get a vanilla audio version of my posts.

The feed for this is http://randomreality.libsyn.com/rss/Audiopost

Obviously I’ll have to fiddle around with it a bit, to get the right settings/file size/format, but hopefully it’ll be a step in the right direction towards making the internet and blogging a bit easier to use for the blind and partially sighted.

Let me know what you think.

23 thoughts on “Accessible”

  1. I just tried the podcast for this post. It seemed VERY quiet. I had to pump the volume way up to hear clearly and then it suffered from major hiss. Anyone else getting the same?

  2. What a great idea! I shall follow progress with interest. I'm especially pleased that YOU are doing this because you have such a big readership and it will set a terrific example to others by bringing 'accessibility' further up the public agenda.

  3. I'm not sure if this is an issue worth worrying about too much, but the mpeg format is not easy to deal with under Linux. There are emulators, but I, for one, haven't tried hard enough to find a working one. (I'm not VIP, so it's not a problem for me personally, but it always seems to me that having an open source alternative is The Right Thing To Do.) Do any of the readers of this site know where to get a good and *easy to install* mpeg emulator for Linux?

  4. Don't forget to make sure the page with the podcast is accessible too…its not going to be much good if the screen reader has trouble finding the link that starts the podcast playing.. by the way a good place to test the accessibility for your site (if you don't have the link already) is Cynthia says as a designer I always check the sites I make through this first…then move on to an independent testing organisation where they are tested by real people with real disabilities. However my blog…not hosted by myself is totally inaccessible and I too have massive guilt trips about it.

  5. …oh just thought I'd add…for anyone who doesn't know…it is actually illegal now to have a web site in this country that doesn't comply with the governments section 508 law on accessibility, many have already been sued for this, although I've not heard of any blogs suffering as yet.

  6. I've been using http://www.silktide.com/sitescore to test the accessibility of my website. It tells you exact bits of code that are wrong so it's easy to fix things. I imagine it's not 100% perfect, but it's certainly better than nothing!Erika

    P.S. If you want to check it more than once, you'll have to sign up for a free account as it caches the result.

  7. The real problem if you're blind or partially sighted isn't reading out the text itself, it's getting access to the links to other pages and having images described for you.Seeing a blind person navigate the web via an audiobrowser for the first time was most incredible thing, for somebody who'd never thought about that sort of thing before.

    It's only illegal to have an inaccessible website if you're providing a commercial service. It's the difference between needing to put a ramp in if you own a shop, but not needing to at your private house.

  8. Hi,I work in the field of accessible web design. I love your blog, so if I can offer advice please just ask and I'll be happy to help – seems like the least I can do! I'm flash@wdam.co.uk.

    Cheers.

  9. Speaking for myself… could you possibly make it idiot-accessible? Cos I click that link and just get a bunch of code that means very, very little to me. Of course I have only just woken up… I'll try again later.But yay for increased accessibility on the internet!

  10. Yay for accessibility, and yay for whoever anonymous is that beat me to the first link.Your blog isn't actually too bad in terms of accessibility – content is first, contrast is fine, text size can be changed and you're not overloaded with graphics or flash doobries. From a 30 second look the only thing you might want to do immediately is let people know that all the sidebar links open in a new window, and make sure that whenever you post an image, make sure it's got good alt text.

    Trust me, if your site was a mare, I'd have gone potty at you long before (or at least had a quiet word) 🙂

    That said, I think you reading your posts is a really nice idea – because as someone else said, listening to a screen reader voice sounds horrible and any change from the norm would be good.

    It'll also help those with reading difficulties and older people who might just get tired reading long stuff.

    So keep on keeping on 🙂

  11. And (legally*) stoned people who can't focus on the damned screen!As well as those things you mention, it's helpful to have a link that appears at the very top of the HTML that links to the main content, especially if your menu and other bits come first in the HTML.

    Also there is a function to bring up a list of all links on a page and choose one (in the screenreader I know) and there are so many links on this blog that it would take someone hours to find the right one. I think there should be some kind of prize for the first people to make blogware accessible (blogware in general).

    *pain medication, in case anyone was wondering. Note that use of asterisks to make notes like this isn't very accessible either. 🙂 (neither are smilies)

  12. I think podcasts are getting totally hyped up beyond all proportion. But this is a great use of the technology, to allow the blind and partially sighted to hear your posts… I know I enjoy reading them, so I'm sure others will enjoy listening!

  13. If you'd like to make the pages a little more accessible for all of us, you could change the stylesheet to use relative font sizes. At the moment I have to up the size everytime I visit the site.

  14. Hello Tom,This is Dee (a friend of John Young's, you might remember me from the Pit and Pendulum in St. Paul's). I've stumbled across your blog purely by chance.

    A possibly unexpected side effect of the 'accessible' podcasts is that for people like myself, who haven't seen you in ages, it's actually just quite nice to hear your dulcet tones.

    Not shouting at people. 🙂

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