Accessible Twitter changes name to Easy Chirp

Web App "Accessible Twitter" Changes Name to "Easy Chirp"
The web-accessible application empowers users with disabilities and low-end technology to access

Twitter, the popular social micro-blogging web service.

Cupertino, CA (June 1, 2011) – Accessible Twitter, the esteemed web application that empowers

users with disabilities and low-end technology to access Twitter, will now go by the name Easy

Chirp (www.easychirp.com).

The name change is due to several reasons, the foremost is that the Twitter rules of use for

third-party applications does not allow the word "Twitter" in the name of the application. Also,

the word "easy" is simpler to understand than "accessible", especially to those not in the

accessibility or disability communities. And, the new name is considerably shorter, especially

important with the 140-character limit in Twitter statuses, better known as tweets.

Mr. Dennis E. Lembree, owner of the web development company WebOverhauls.com, is the creator of

Easy Chirp, and is dedicated to expanding the accessibility of the web.

"Accessibility is finally becoming much more mainstream, as it needs to be. I think the name

change reflects this, and helps expose the web app to a wider base of users."
-Dennis Lembree of WebOverhauls

The website logo and design remain consistent after the name change. The old domain name

AccessibleTwitter.com will continue to be functional.

In addition to reading and posting tweets in Easy Chirp, features include direct messaging,

URL-shortening, running and saving searches, viewing popular links, and providing full support

for lists.

Mr. Jennison Asuncion works in the IT Accessibility space in Canada, and is himself a screen

reader user. He chooses Easy Chirp for his Twitter application. "I’m an active Twitter user who

prefers an accessible web-based client. Easy Chirp fits the bill perfectly!"

Easy Chirp/Accessible Twitter has been mentioned in numerous articles and books, and received

the American Foundation for the Blind 2011 Access Award.

For more about Easy Chirp, visit: http://www.easychirp.com.

#####

About Web Overhauls
Web Overhauls is a web development company specializing in web standards, usability, and

accessibility. Web Overhauls develops websites for small to medium-sized businesses with a focus

on improving existing websites for a better user experience. The company is a member of GAWDS

and Refresh Detroit. Mr. Dennis E. Lembree, the President of Web Overhauls, is an established

expert in the field; he is an author and speaker, the creator of Easy Chirp, and the author of

Web Axe, a podcast and blog about web accessibility.

For more information, visit or email: weboverhauls [AT] gmail dot com.

About Easy Chirp
Disabled users typically have significant problems accessing many websites and web services,

including Twitter. Easy Chirp greatly helps the issue through many development techniques

including: ensuring that all links are keyboard accessible; providing consistent navigation and

page structure; providing proper headings. Easy Chirp works with or without JavaScript and is

compatible with all major Internet browsers, including the outdated Internet Explorer 6. Easy

Chirp is used by those with and without disabilities.

For more information, visit http://www.easychirp.com or email: info [AT] easychirp dot com.

 

###

 

Thanks, Dennis, for a great product, no matter the name.  Readers, go to Easy Chirp and tweet about it to your followers!

 

LL

 

EyeNote currency identifier app available for U.S. currency

Here is an announcement I received from the White House Disability Group.  If you have tried

this identifier, let us know how well it is working for you.

 

Bureau of Engraving and Printing Launches EyeNote™App

to Help the Blind and Visually Impaired Denominate US Currency

 

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) has developed a free downloadable application (app)

to assist the blind and visually impaired denominate US currency.  The app is called EyeNote™. 

EyeNote™ is a mobile device app designed for Apple iPhone (3G, 3Gs, 4), and the 4th Generation

iPod Touch and iPad2 platforms, and is available through the Apple iTunes App Store.   

EyeNote™ uses image recognition technology to determine a note’s denomination.  The mobile

device’s camera requires 51 percent of a note’s scanned image, front or back, to process.  In a

matter of seconds, EyeNote™ can provide an audible or vibrating response, and can denominate all

Federal Reserve notes issued since 1996.  Free downloads will be available whenever new US

currency designs are introduced.  Research indicates that more than 100,000 blind and visually

impaired individuals could currently own an Apple iPhone.

 

The EyeNoteTM app is one of a variety of measures the government is working to deploy to assist

the visually impaired community to denominate currency, as proposed in a recent Federal Register

notice.  These measures include implementing a Currency Reader Program whereby a United States

resident, who is blind or visually impaired, may obtain a coupon that can be applied toward the

purchase of a device to denominate United States currency; continuing to add large high contrast

numerals and different background colors to redesigned currency; and, raised tactile features

may be added to redesigned currency, which would provide users with a means of identifying each

denomination via touch.

 

More information is available at http://www.eyenote.gov/ or through email at eyenote@bep.gov.

 

Also, at: http://www.bep.treas.gov/uscurrency/meaningfulaccess

 

LL

Posted in AT News, Cool Tools. No Comments »

Latest ZoomText release and I E 9: Not so fast

You’d think by now I would have learned.  In my defense, though, I was out of town for awhile, and when I returned, I was greeted by my computer with the dreaded, "New updates are available" prompt.  Normally, this would not distress me, but in this case I was informed that 20 "important" updates and 5 "optional" updates were available.  Did I look at the list and judiciously choose which updates to install?  No.  You probably already know where I’m going with this.

among the 20 important updates were two in particular that have created a problem for users of ZoomText screen reader, as am I.  One was the most recent update to Internet Explorer, the other was the most recent update to ZoomText.  The latest update to ZoomText is version 9.19.1, which does not support the other important update, the latest release of Internet Explorer, version 9.  Let ‘er rip, I thought, pressing the "install now" button and walking away.  Mistake.

If you have also done this, you now know that ZoomText Magnifier/Reader will not work in conjunction with the latest I E release.  Specifically, the speech component of ZT does not function consistently, particularly when filling in data fields, using the App Reader tool, or when writing email.  At first, I was unable to get ZoomText to speak the letter characters under the cursor when using the arrow keys, even while in my word processor.  I called A I Squared tech support, and was told to try the cursor detect toggle, CTRL+ALT+SHFT+d.  After invoking that hotkey combination while in the document, I was prompted to answer "yes" or "no" to the question asked, and I selected "yes."  That worked perfectly.  However, the same trick did not work for reading email, or entering data into edit boxes or when using the App Reader. 

The upshot is, ZoomText release 9.19.1 does not work with Internet Explorer 9, and the only way to solve the problem is to uninstall I E 9.  Sorry.

If you go to the A I Squared web site blog page, you can read the post on how exactly to do this, if you need tips.  There is also a video on that page, where tony from tech support walks you through the process.  It isn’t hard to do, but it is disappointing that ZoomText users will be unable to take advantage of the new features of I E 9.  Just a friendly reminder:  When attempting any sort of major alteration to your versions and setttings, do set a system restore point and make a backup before proceeding.  Just looking out for my friends, here.  
               
Here is the link to the AI Squared blog post and video:

http://www.aisquared.com/blog/2011/04/zoomtext-tech-support-tip-uninstalling-internet-explorer-9/

 

Good luck, and let me know if you discover any work-arounds. 

 

LL

Blogging Against Disablism: It’s On Aisle 5

It’s on Aisle 5
  Good customer service is an equal opportunity opportunity

By L. Legendary

Little else in my life could be described as more of an exercise in frustration than grocery shopping.  As a person who is legally blind, each trip is a time-consuming game of roulette, with odds on as to whether or not I’ll arrive home with what I thought I bought.  Of course, some sections of the market are easier to negotiate than others.  The produce section, for example, is no problem. It’s a tactile paradise.  I mean, really, bananas are quite distinctively shaped, so is broccoli and zucchini and a head of lettuce.  What cannot be discerned by shape can almost certainly be discerned by scent.  Orange or grapefruit? Tangerine or lemon? Each has a lovely, distinctive citrus bouquet.  No problem.

The seafood counter is also no problem.  There stands a very nice person who will tell me what is fresh, what is frozen, and what is on sale.  The only potential pitfall is the possibility that he or she could choose for me a less than desirable cut that a discriminating sighted-shopper might pass over.  A few kind words to the counter-person should make this possibility a non-issue, though.  Seafood counter?  No problem.  Deli counter?  A breeze. I can simply ask the nice person to slice up a half-pound of this, a quarter-pound of that, and which soup do you recommend today?  Gather up the bundles and move along.

These few tasks covers about one thousand square feet of what is an otherwise fifty-five thousand square foot stadium-sized obstacle course of boxes, bottles, cans and cartons, the contents of which are indeterminate.  Houston, we have a problem.

Warily, I approached the customer service counter.  In my experience, anything that identifies itself as “customer service” should be regarded with suspicion.  Usually, it turns out to be a disappointing misapplication of the term.  Awaiting the attention of a young lady behind the counter, I pasted on my “I used to work in retail, so I feel your pain” patient smile.

“What do you need, ma’am?”  The young lady called out from a distance of twenty-five feet.

Instead of yelling back, I smiled warmly and beckoned her over.  I had no way of knowing she was even talking to me.  She could have been calling out to any number of people standing nearby, so the beckoning gesture was modified to look like a friendly wave in case I was mistaken.

She walked over.  “What do you need, ma’am?”  she repeated.

Turning up the smile, I said, “I could use some assistance out on the sales floor.  I’m looking for something in particular, and I’d appreciate it if someone would walk me over and help me to locate it.”

She hesitated.  “Okay.”  She said, stretching out the word as if she were a little annoyed. Then, for the third time, “What is it you need, ma’am?”

Why, I daresay I already answered that question.  I persisted.  “I’d like some help out on the sales floor.  Could you assist me or find someone who can assist me?”

Now she was getting impatient. “What exactly are you looking for?”

Ah.  She was beginning to catch on to the fact that I wasn’t going to tell her.  Not that I was trying to be difficult, mind you, but because I knew that I wasn’t about to get the information I wanted from her by answering her question.  I didn’t want to tell her what exactly I was looking for because I was anticipating her response, which would most likely be a dismissive wave of the hand and the curt, “It’s on Aisle 5.”

Well, all I can say is that for a person who cannot see, this kind of cryptic gesture is utterly meaningless.  I’m not interested in knowing it’s on aisle five, because I have no idea where aisle five is.  Do the aisle numbers begin at the right side of the store, or left?  Do the aisle numbers begin before the semi-permanent half-aisle of chips and salsa, avocados and Roma tomatoes, or do the numbers begin after that?  Do the aisle numbers include the brand new, just-installed-since-the-last-time-I-was-there “Wine Cellar” section?

I didn’t ask her to tell me on which aisle to look.  I asked her if she could help me to locate something on the sales floor. It was a battle of wills.

I broke first.  "I’m looking for an item that is brand new. I don’t even know if you carry it. It’s a particular brand of pesto in a jar.”

“All pasta sauces are on Aisle 5,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand, and began to walk away.

“Excuse me!”  I called out to her receding back.  “I could really use some assistance in locating the item.”  I held up my white cane, and, pointing to it, said, “I’m visually impaired.”

“Oh!”  She exclaimed, really seeing me for the first time, and whirled into motion.  Practically leaping over the counter, she called out to a nearby checker, “Hey, Vic, we have a special needs customer with a question.”  Standing at the end of a busy check stand, she whispered loudly, “She’s sight-challenged.”  Then asked of the checkout man, “Do we have Brand X pesto sauce in a jar?”

“It’s on aisle five.” He answered, without looking up from his task, then waved his hand dismissively,  in the general direction of the entire store.

Now I was getting impatient.  “Could you please find a customer service person to help me locate the item?"  I implored.  "I don’t care where it is, I’m not asking you to tell me where it is, I’m asking for someone to please assist me out on the sales floor.”  

“Well sure, ma’am, we can do that,” she said, in a tone which suggested that she was growing concerned that I was about to go ape-shit on her ass.  Then, cheerily:  “I’ll do it.”

When we arrived at aisle five, she informed me triumphantly that she saw no such brand of pesto in a jar, letting it hang out there that if I had just taken her word for it, I could have saved her the trouble of helping me.  Turning to me she said, “So are you totally blind, or what?  Because we can assign someone to help you shop if you want.  Just tell them you have a problem and they’ll try to find someone to do it.”

I almost laughed out loud.  So far, getting help had been like pulling teeth.  Her sudden magnanimity had only broken from the bonds of apathy after I pointed out my disability.  I told her that customer service was customer service, and that I should not be forced to divulge my personal medical circumstances in order to get it.  Why should I be required to explain WHY I need assistance?  Other shoppers are not required to confess to being lazy or stupid or forgetful when enlisting the assistance of a customer service representative.

Furthermore, why is it anyone’s business what precisely constitutes the scope or severity of these circumstances?  Would I, for example, have been given better or even faster service had I admitted to being “totally blind”?  No one else is expected to provide an explanation as to why they are requesting assistance, or the degree to which they need it.  Nor should I.  Feeling put on the spot, I offered up a bit of education on the subject.

Fearing that surely she was about to be the recipient of disciplinary action by her manager as the result of a complaint, she listened attentively, then pointed out that anyone would be more than happy to accompany me shopping any time I needed it.  Incredulous, I hesitated.  I felt compelled to offer a reality check.

“First of all,” I began, “very few establishments have the staffing levels to accompany me or anyone else shopping.  "Second,” I assured her, “no one is happy about it.”

“I’m not asking for special favors,” I concluded.  “I don’t need anyone to hold my hand. Good customer service is an equal opportunity . . . opportunity.”

Clearly, she didn’t get it.  “Huh?”  she said.  “I’m lost.”

I sighed.  “It’s on aisle five.”

Copyright © 2005.  All rights reserved.

Author’s note:  This article was originally written years ago, and since then, many things have changed.  I am happy to report that I now order my groceries online, and have them delivered to my door.  What a wonderful world. 

LL