Help build an accessible apps library

One aspect of the state of usability we refer to as "accessibility" that has irritated me of late is that some have seemed to play pretty fast and loose with the definitions.  Most of us recognize that the term "accessible" has both a connotation and a denotation, both a literal and figurative meaning.  With regard to online web development, there are specific "rules" of engagement as to actual techniques used to accomplish web accessibility.  For many of us, though, we tend toward the most fundamental of all of the meanings:  Can I use it or not?


There’s a practical aspect to what most users and consumers define as accessible.  For example, to each situation, I apply my "WSA" standard.  I need to be able to access, use or otherwise consume the product, establishment or service without sighted assistance.  That means that from beginning to end, it must be possible for me to complete the entire transaction or task on my own.


With the above in mind, I’d like to assemble a list of some of my readers favorite accessible apps for blogs, phones, Facebook and Twitter.  I’ve no doubt there are other lists or resources out there, but there is something to be said for a compilation generated by those who have personal experience in real world situations.  

Before you begin sending in your ideas, though, ask yourself the following:  Does this suggestion rise to the "WSA" threshold?

  Here are a few stipulations to consider as a guideline when offering your picks:   

1:  The web site from which you choose the app must be accessible.  This includes the download page.  

2:  If your pick is a blog app, the dashboard of your blog as well as the app install must be accessible.  No fair asking your brother or your assistant to do the install for you.  If you know how to do it, you must be able to, using your own access software such as a screen reader, puffer, stylus, touch board or whatever. 

3:  Once installed, you must be able to set up or configure the app to your preferences unassisted.  This also includes the registration process. 

4:  Once configured, you must be able to use it yourself on your own site, FB page, or phone. 

If you have to ask someone to read to you the serial number printed on a sticker on the product packaging, or complete the registration procedure or enter the graphical verification key, or download it from the developer site for you, it is not fully accessible.


So, if your app meets our usability standards from the word "go," as they say, then send me your picks.  Hey, I just installed an FB app that I cannot recommend.  I got all the way done, installed, configured, etc…only to find that, while I can "see" it on my FB page, I cannot use it!  Thanks, FB, for yet another inaccessible tab.  Sigh.  Well, I hope you all enjoy it, because I can’t. 

anyway, I look forward to reading your favorites.  help me build an accessible apps library that everyone can use. 


Google to abandon voice recognition directory assistance Goog 411

On November 12, 2010, Google will no longer offer their voice-powered directory assistance service Goog 411.  The service began back in 2007, enabling mobile users or anyone who preferred voice recognition to call toll-free and be connected to businesses throughout the U.S. and Canada.  The Goog 411 service was the first of it’s kind for Google, and it has served as a platform for other services, now available on Smartphones.  In fact,  Google plans to speech-enable all of their future products and services.


Right now, if you do not use a Smartphone, and you want to call a business, you can send the name and location of the  business via text message to 466453 (GOOGLE) and you will  be texted the information, or you can use the free calling features on gmail. 


Want to get more info and  Google apps?  Click here.



Posted in AT News, Cool Tools. No Comments »

Inclusion Rx: Prescription for a healthier workplace

One of my favorites of the inclusion and diversity topic area web sites is Diversity World. The site is devoted to issues that concern both workers and employers who are disabled and non-disabled. Diversity World is “dedicated to Enriching Workplaces and Reducing Employment Barriers."

They also publish one of the best newsletters on the subject available. I’ve been a subscriber for years. The site provides information and resources that are timely, relevant and interesting.


The site is helmed by Rob McInns, who, as a human services professional, has focused broadly on issues of workforce diversity and more specifically on issues of employment and disability. Rob’s work has been marked by passion and leadership in the quest for greater workforce inclusion for people with disabilities. He has formerly served as the CEO of two direct service organizations for people with disabilities, as Executive Director of the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work, as the Coordinator for California Business Leadership Network, and as a Diversity Consultant with IBM.


I particularly appreciate the "Diversity Shop," a place to go to obtain teaching aids, videos and publications suitable for almost any workplace context, communication or conflict resolution training.


Diversity World



The newsletter is intelligently written, featuring articles and commentary by thought leaders as well as readers who elevate the dialogue pertaining to awareness, access and inclusion. If you search the archives, you may even find one or two of my own contributions. The newsletter is cleverly called Inclusion Rx, and it’s a perfect prescription for all of your workplace diversity ailments!



Who should be the face of a disability non-profit?

For my readers who have disabilities, here’s a chance to toss in your two cents. What do you think?

Should organizations that represent people with disabilities be managed by people with disabilities?

This may seem like an issue of no consequence, but I recently found myself investigating a local non-profit agency that specifically benefits the local blind community. However, the program manager of the agency is not blind or visually impaired in any way. I found this extremely irritating. It seems to me that the “face” of a disability advocacy organization should be that of a person who represents that demographic group. Or, should it?

On the one hand, the leadership, upper management, board of directors or membership of any organization wants the business to be competently managed, which renders race, ethnicity, disability irrelevant. One might say that this is the core of the issue of equal opportunity. Does this idea extend to organizations which specifically represent a particular group?

Does the choice of a sighted person as manager of a center for the blind suggest that a person who is blind cannot competently handle the operation? It suggested that to me, although in fairness I ought to take the time to find out if there have in fact been other program managers who have been blind. I will. Perhaps I am bent out of shape because her voicemail said, “Miss So and So cannot come to the phone right now, so please leave her a message.” What, she cannot even leave her own outgoing message? Is she voicemail impaired?

I’ll get over it.

In the meantime, I wonder: does a person of Japanese origin head the NAACP? Are the various chapters of the Jewish League run by Southern Baptists? Is the National Organization for Women captained by a person with a “Y” chromosome? I’m just asking.

What’s your opinion?