Easy Chirp returns with new sporty features and more power under the hood


A few months ago, the social networking site Twitter made an important update to its API, which necessitated some serious scrambling by third-party users of the previous API version. One of the third-party clients was Easy Chirp, the accessible, cross-platform Twitter alternative. Many users were forced to find other ways to tweet their updates while Easy Chirp and other Twitter clients either faded into the sunset, or in the case of Easy Chirp, went down, but not out, for the count.

Dennis Lembree (@DennisL), creator of Easy Chirp, decided this API update presented an opportunity to rebuild Easy Chirp, updating the back-end architecture and adding some new bells and whistles.

After months of a from-the-ground-up rebuild, Easy Chirp is back. Just within the last week, Lembree quietly reintroduced Easy Chirp, with a middle-of-the-night tweet announcing a “soft launch.”

Happily, Dennis had already invited me to test drive the beta version, which can be found at www.easychirp.org for now. The revised app will be available on the regular dot com domain during the official launch, reportedly within a few weeks. I was so excited that my preferred web-accessible Twitter client was back, I immediately flew to the site to check it out.

The first thing I noticed, which surprised me, was that the new version is almost exactly the same as the previous version. For some reason, I had expected a completely new look and feel. However, the differences between old and new versions quickly became obvious. The “under the hood” changes are what make Easy Chirp 2 a new experience.

First, it is much faster. I am using NVDA as my screen reader and the latest version of FireFox as my browser. Wow…The page loads and navigation were blistering fast. Also, because of improved page organization in some areas, navigating from various elements has been streamlined.

Mr. Lembree partnered with Seattle developer Andrew Woods (@awoods) to complete the project. After considering a number of partners for the work, he chose Woods because of his experience with PHP. Mr. Woods recommended a PHP development framework called CodeIgniter. One reason Lembree decided to go with this framework was that it offers translation features, allowing Easy Chirp to be translated into multiple languages. First after English will be Spanish, says Lembree, which is “about 98% done.” German and Arabic translations are in the works, and other languages such as French are also planned for future availability.

While Woods worked on the back-end architecture, Lembree focused on the front end, populating the data and reworking many aspects of the user interface. “Between the new PHP framework and the new Twitter API, it’s a lot faster,” says Lembree. “Another one of the big coding changes is moving from XHTML to HTML5,” he adds.

There are a few new features of the platform. Notably, the option to choose a dark or light theme, which is useful for people who have light sensitivity or difficulty with light/dark contrast perception. One of Lembree’s favorite new features is the “quick search,” and the “go to user” functions, which are accessible modal windows. If that means nothing to you, I suspect this is one of those esoteric’s that only a developer can truly appreciate.

There is a short list of development tasks that are yet to be completed, which you can review on the Easy Chirp 2 home page. Among the most important of these tasks is the addition of a pagination type of behavior, available currently only on the main timeline page through a link at the bottom that reads, “view older tweets.” More tasks and features are planned but not yet made public.

If you enjoyed using Easy Chirp prior to the “API-pocalypse,” (I still can’t stop saying that, I’m so proud of it), then give Easy Chirp 2 a try. Don’t forget to click on the “donate” button on the home page, and thank Dennis and Andrew for their hard work by tossing a few bucks in the development tip jar.

About Dennis Lembree:

Mr. Lembree has over 15 years experience in web development. He’s worked for a variety of startups as well as large companies including Ford, RIM, Disney, and is now on the accessibility team at PayPal in San Jose, California. Mr. Lembree enjoys attending and presenting at conferences and social media. And besides Easy Chirp, he runs WebAxe.org, a blog and podcast on web accessibility.

You can follow Dennis on Twitter at: @webaxe or at: @EasyChirp for more info and updates.

LL

Help build an inclusive Twittersphere with Easy Chirp 2


For those of you who follow these things, you already know that Twitter (www.twitter.com), the social media micro-blogging platform, is making changes to its Application Programming Interface (API). For those of you who have no idea what that means, or why it’s significant, allow me to get you up to speed.

According to Wikipedia, An application programming interface (API) is a “protocol intended to be used as an interface by software components to communicate with each other. An API is a library that may include specification for routines, data structures, object classes, and variables.” If you want to read more, go here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_programming_interface

Twitter has only had a single version of the API in its entire history. Now, they want to make changes, and update to version 1.1. They have announced new developer “rules of the road,” and have outlined the proposed changes here:

https://dev.twitter.com/blog/changes-coming-to-twitter-api

The changes will affect all third-party applications that interact with Twitter, such as those you might use as an accessible alternative to the main Twitter web site. Some of these third-party Twitter clients have already completed the necessary adjustments, while others may not even bother, and may simply disappear. Time is running short, however, because Twitter has announced the “sunset” of version 1.0 of the API here:

https://dev.twitter.com/blog/api-v1-retirement-final-dates

Ever since I first discovered Twitter, I’ve been using the accessible alternative created by Dennis Lembree. Originally called Accessible Twitter, the web-based version now goes by the name Easy Chirp. Due to the changes made by Twitter to the API, Dennis has been forced to reinvent Easy Chirp, soon to be Easy Chirp 2. Dennis needs your help. He has started a kickstarter profile, and needs your pledges. The money raised will be used to compensate the experts Dennis has hired to assist with the project. As usual, when making a contribution to a Kickstarter project, you will receive a thank-you gift commensurate with the amount of your donation. See more info here:

Help build an inclusive Twittersphere: http://tinyurl.com/c9fsj5v

“I created Easy Chirp over four years ago and am touched by the support it’s received from the community. Now it must be rebuilt due to the Twitter API change, and I hope to collaborate this time with a few other developers.” Lembree says.

Dennis plans some new features and additional streamlining to make Easy Chirp 2 even faster and more accessible. It will continue to support keyboard-only users, will work without Javascript, and will be better optimized for mobile devices. Of course, it will still feature the user-friendly interface you’ve come to expect, useable by people who have a variety of disabilities, and who use a variety of assistive technologies.

Says Lembree: “To me, Easy Chirp exemplifies what a web app should be: platform agnostic, accessible, and simple. It provides a unique and necessary service in the social media space.”

There is no shortage of Twitter clients in the market, which can be used with different operating systems and device types. I use Easy Chirp for my own reasons, not the least of which is that I know Dennis, like him, trust him, and appreciate his work. If you have used Easy Chirp in the past, but have never clicked on that “donate” button just below the sign-in link on the Easy Chirp home page, then scrape a few coins out from between the sofa cushions and send them Dennis’s way. We’ll be tweeting at one another again before it’s time to fly south for the winter.

Pledge to the Easy Chirp 2 Kickstarter here:

Http://www.kickstarter.com and perform a search, or go directly to the Easy Chirp 2 project page here: http://tinyurl.com/c9fsj5v

For all things Twitter API, go here:

https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api

You can follow Easy Chirp: @EasyChirp for updates, or you can follow me @Accessible_Info on Twitter as well.

LL

The 2013 Assistive Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference


If you are a person who has a disability, or if you know or love someone who does, you will soon have an opportunity to attend what could be a life-changing event. If you have never before attended the International Conference on Disability, presented by California State University, Northridge, I am going to work hard over the next few weeks to give you some compelling reasons to attend. This annual conference is the largest of its kind, and each year showcases the very latest assistive technologies, teaching techniques and best practices for web and mobile accessibility development, as well as the latest in disability-related policy news and legislation. You’ll hear inspiring words from thought leaders and educators, and you can experience the camaraderie and fellowship of others who may be living with a disability similar to your own. If you can only attend one event this year, this is the one to attend. There is truly something educational, fun and uplifting here for everyone.

Start with this link, below. It will take you to the main page, where you will find all the info you need. Attendee registration is now open, so make your plans soon.

http://www.csun.edu/cod/conference/2013/sessions/index.php

If you want to explore the full list of educational sessions, click this link:

http://www.csun.edu/cod/conference/2013/sessions/index.php/public/conf_sessions/

You will be amazed at the range of topics, and the depth to which they can be explored. If you are not a technology fanatic, don’t worry. There are sessions on just about every aspect of disability awareness, accessibility and advocacy. All levels of expertise are addressed at many sessions, so don’t let intimidation or feelings of technical illiteracy keep you away.

There are also some social events you can attend. For example, The Paciello Group, WebAIM, Infoaxia, PayPal, The Center on Disabilities at CSUN, EZFire, OpenDirective, and CA Technologies will coordinate and sponsor a tweetup at the CSUN Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference. The tweetup will be held Thursday, February 28th at 6:00pm at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego. Additional details will be coming soon. The tweetup is open to all Twitter users, but attendees are asked to RSVP.

http://csuntweetup.com/

Finally, be sure to use the hashtag #CSUN13 when tweeting about the conference. Check back here throughout February, as I will be showcasing a few of the presenters you can look forward to seeing at the conference. Make your travel arrangements early, and I look forward to seeing you there. You can follow me at @Accessible_Info on Twitter, so tweet me up so we can meet!

LL

Press release on free events and exhibit hall at CSUN 2012


Waiting until midweek to attend the free events at the CSUN 2012 Assistive Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference?  If so, you will be met by thousands also flocking to get a look at the latest assistive devices on display in the exhibit hall at the Manchester Gran Hyatt.  Below is the latest info on the tweetup event, and other information on free events scheduled for the week.  See you there!

 

San Diego to Host 27th Annual International

Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference

Geri Jewell to Keynote Largest Tech Conference For People with Disabilities;

CSUN 2012 Exhibit and Several Forums Will be Open to the Public


San Diego, CA—February 23, 2012—California State University, Northridge (CSUN) announced today highlights for the upcoming 27th Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference including the free exhibit and several forums that will be open to the public. The world’s largest and only university-sponsored tech event dedicated to people with disabilities will again take place at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, February 27-March 3, 2012. CSUN is also proud to announce that actor, comedienne, speaker and advocate, Geri Jewell, will keynote the 2012 conference.

“Our conference is very unique to the industry and brings together thousands from around the world including scientists, influencers, government officials, visionary tech execs and entrepreneurs, all committed to driving innovation in assistive technology to promote inclusiveness for people with disabilities—our largest group of attendees and the reason we all gather to push the research and industry forward each year,” said Sandy Plotin, managing director of CSUN’s Center on Disabilities.

Actor, comedienne, speaker and advocate for people with disabilities, Geri Jewell, will keynote the 2012 conference. Jewell, who brought national attention to cerebral palsy and ability awareness in her role as “cousin Geri” in the 80’s TV series, The Facts of Life, uses humor to facilitate attitude changes. Jewell remains a leading force in disabilities advocacy and continues her acting career as seen on the award-winning HBO series, Deadwood, and in the new FOX series, Alcatraz.

“We are thrilled to have Geri Jewell as our keynote this year. By sharing her disability as her greatest blessing, she transforms the focus of her motivational appearances and training sessions from disabilities to a true celebration of ability. She’ll undoubtedly inspire and empower conference attendees, which is our ultimate goal,” added Plotin.

CSUN 2012 will include two days of engaging pre-conference events and 350 general sessions led by experts, all focused on promoting accessibility through technology innovation and policy change. Also, there will be over 130 exhibitors demonstrating the latest in assistive technology from software and social media apps to robotics. The exhibit hall and several forums will be open to the public and free of charge.

FREE EXHIBIT HALL HOURS (OPEN TO THE PUBLIC):

  • Wednesday, February 29, 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 1, 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Friday, March 2, 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM

FREE EXHIBITS & FORUMS (OPEN TO THE PUBLIC):

Microsoft, Online Event – Follow Microsoft on its “Road to CSUN”, an eight-day road trip from Seattle to San Diego that will explore and share the world of accessibility discovered on the way to the conference. See regular updates and video on Microsoft’s Accessibility Blog, http://aka.ms/EnableBlog and Twitter (@MSFTEnable or #Road2CSUN), February 20 – 28th.

Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities – Reps from FEMA and other agencies will discuss emerging hazards, new communication technologies and maximizing wireless device readiness (mobile, smart phone, tablet). Explore Apps, cloud storage, social media readiness, alternative power options for essential communication and independence, and other key preparedness. – Thursday, March 1, 10:00 a.m-12:00 p.m. PT (Elizabeth Ballrooms “D” & “E”)

Department of Labor, Featured Presentation – Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy, will speak about the agency’s efforts to promote the development and adoption of accessible workplace technology by America’s employers, which is essential to advancing the employment of people with disabilities. – Thursday, March 1, 12:00-12:30 p.m. (Elizabeth Ballrooms “D” & “E”)

U.S. Access Board – The Board recently conducted a public hearing on a revised draft of updated requirements for information and comm. technology (ICT) covered by Section 508 of the Rehab. Act and Section 255 of the Telecom. Act. The next Public Hearing on the Draft ICT Rule will be held at CSUN 2012. – Thursday, March 1, 1:00-3:00 p.m. PT (Elizabeth Ballrooms “D” & “E”)

Department of Transportation – Representatives of the DOT and Amtrak will discuss the rights of people with disabilities when in transport by land, air and sea, and the importance of designing a livable and accessible community. This session will also include a discussion of recent DOT rulemaking, enforcement and outreach activities to make our travel system more fully accessible as well as a video presentation on evacuating people with disabilities during emergencies. – Friday, March 2, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. PT (Elizabeth Ballrooms “D” & “E”)

For more information about the conference including how to register for pre-conference workshops and other closed-session events, visit the Center on Disabilities’ website at <http://www.csun.edu/cod> or call (818) 677-2578.

About CSUN
California State University, Northridge has more than 35,000 full- and part-time students and offers 66 bachelor’s and 53 master’s degrees as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Founded in 1958, CSUN is among the largest single-campus universities in the nation and the only four-year public university in the San Fernando Valley. The university serves as the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Valley and beyond. http://www.csun.edu

###

 

Don’t forget to use the #CSUN12 hashtag when tweeting about the event.

LL

Version 2.0: The ultimate “follow Friday” list for accessible tweeps


As promised, here is the updated list with a few additions, as per your request.  Please follow them on Twitter, find them on Facebook, link to them on Linked In, and avail yourself of their genius.  Thank you to all of you for your great work and contribution of time and energy in educating others.

Now  that I’ve spent some time as a tweep, I’m getting a better handle on how reaching out to a network of like-minded business people can enhance my own little universe, even if it’s only 140 characters at a time.    In just a few months on Twitter, I’ve made some great connections with both business owners and consumers in an effort to market my own offerings.  I’ve hired consultants I’ve met through Twitter, I’ve downloaded some great software and apps I learned about from Twitter, and have received the most wonderfully positive and  encouraging feedback from complete strangers who have learned of my work through Twitter.  Along with my other social networking efforts, I’ve managed to come up with a really stellar list of great resources from which I’ve personally benefited.  I thought I’d share some of them with you, in hope that you find the same superb quality I’ve discovered.  Remember, behind every seemingly meaningless  screen name is a brilliant human being who is seeking to share their wisdom and experience. 

Note:  For newcomers to the world of accessibility, the use of “a11y” is an abbrieviation of sorts for the word “accessibility.”  Also, some of the URL’s I shortened, just for your ease of use.  No malware here!

 

@mcourcel — Accessible tips and tricks, including screen reader friendly app reviews can be found at: www.accesscontent.ca/blog  
@BCCPD   Find the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities Help Sheets, reports, and magazine online:
www.bccpd.bc.ca

@tbabinszki – Tom Babinszki Section 508 accessibility consultant, publisher of Even Grounds newsletter http://www.evengrounds.com/

@blindbeautiful — Blind   Beautifully Blind Inc. is a Non-Profit organization that bridges the gap between the sighted and visually impaired. http://ow.ly/1wkLh

@InclusivePlanet — Creating an online community where the visually-impaired can easily share accessible content and conversations.  http://www.inclusiveplanet.com

@stcaccess – Tweets from the SIG (Karen and Cyn) about accessibility issues for technical communicators, spiced with dashes of usability and other goodies.  http://www.stc-access.org

@Independence1st – Independence First   : Disability, access, advocacy news – from NPO ILC headquartered in MKE, WI – #1 "Disability" listkeeper per Listorious.

@AccEase Robyn Hunt   Info access & human (disability) rights specialist, writer, blogger, trainer, speaker etc http://www.accese.com/ /  http://tinyurl.com/ygojlzx

@sgauder – Sandi Gauder  Web Accessibility Experts offers accessible web design courses & AODA legislation insights. webaccessibilityexperts.ca

@INDATAproject – Sarah Norman   INDATA services include: Information, referrals, funding assistance, device demos, device loan, and equipment reutilization.

@EqualAccessSOU-    Disability Resources from Southern Oregon University

@aablog -    Ron Graham: Author of Access Ability blog, assistive technology trainer, & advocate for inclusion & disability rights. And, yes, I’m blind.

@grwebguy – Bill Creswell 34-36 Million people in the US have trouble hearing your video message. 4-5 million cannot hear it at all. If your message is worth hearing – caption it. http://www.facebook.com/l/fccb0;captionwire.com

@blindbargains  Products and info for  anyone with vision loss.-

@mosaicpossible – 65,000 Americans with intellectual disabilities don’t have adequate housing http://wouldyouhelp.org

@EmpowerAbility – Deb Young,OTR/L,CAPS, occupational therapy.   Serving DE, SEPA and S. Jersey 

@Fredshead -   Blog, news, products for people with disabilities.  American Printing House for the Blind http://aph.org

@aboutdignity  Advocates dignity for everyone from all walks of life.

@IBMAccess – IBM  Accessibility  Austin/San Jose/all over!  
@WebAxe Blog, podcasts, assistive technology news and information. By Dennis Lembree, creator of Accessible Twitr.

@AccessibleTwitr – Follow news and updates about Accessible Twitr.  http://www.accessibletwitter.com

@Accessibility_ – Access & Mobility

@Disabilitygovhttp://www.disability.gov  USA  
@Disaboom – Disability Website,   Everywhere! 

@ AdvocateAbility – Disability Advocates, Grand Rapids MI  
@GlobalDR- Disability Relief,   Portland, Oregon USA  
@disabilityblog – Disability Lawyers,   Beaumont, Texas 

@Abadi_Access – Eliminating architectural barriers in design and construction using the ADAAG http://bit.ly/cZCkX2

@disabledsportOR  – Disability Sports Wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball and goalball all practicing strong in Portland!

@Disability RightsMT -   Montana, USA

@gimpgirl – A group for women with disabilities.  
@DisabilityGuide – Disability Guide 

@DisabledWorld – – Disability newsfeed   
@a11yjobs – Jobs in the accessibility field, all over the world.

@a11yevents -  Accessible events of interest all over the world.

@SakshamSeva – Disability Portal, New Delhi India.  Eliminating Disability by Enabling Minds" (http://twitthis.com/yhbq9w

@CSUNCOD – The Center on Disability at California State University, Northridge

@RangerStation  Ramblings from some dude in the AT industry http://therangerstation.blogspot.com/

@aznightingales –Disability Nurses in Phoenix, Arizona  
@AccessAfrica  -Disability Solutions 

@Accessible_info – Accessible news and info, community and communication.

@InsightsEmpire – Laura Legendary speaker, author and educator specializing in disability awareness and advocacy www.eloquentinsights.com

  

 

If you do not find yourself or your favorite accessible twee-source (Oh come on, now.  You have no idea how long I debated over the use of “twee-source”), please add your info to the comments.  Help me identify and grow  an important list from

which everyone can build.  

LL

Accessible Twitter enters beta status


Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2010

MEDIA CONTACT
Web Overhauls
weboverhauls
www.weboverhauls.com

Social Media Web App "Accessible Twitter" Enters Beta Status

AccessibleTwitter.com expands features and empowers disabled users to access Twitter, the popular social micro-blogging web service.

Cupertino, CA (February 23, 2010) Accessible Twitter, a web application that empowers disabled users to access Twitter, has updated its status from Alpha to Beta. Accessible Twitter is a web application that enables users with disabilities and limited technology to use the popular social micro-blogging web service Twitter. Accessible Twitter beta will include new features like URL-shortening, trends, saved searches, popular links, and partial support for lists.

Disabled users typically have significant problems accessing many web sites and web services, including Twitter. Accessible Twitter ensures that all links are keyboard accessible, provides simple, consistent layout and navigation, and structures each page with helpful headings. Additional audio cues indicate when Twitter’s 140-character limit is almost reached when writing a tweet. Accessible Twitter works with or without JavaScript and is compatible with all major Internet browsers. Accessible Twitter is used by those with and without disabilities.

Mr. Dennis E. Lembree, owner of the web development company WebOverhauls.com and creator of Accessible Twitter, is dedicated to expanding the accessibility of the web.

"I really enjoy social web apps like Twitter, and unfortunately, the majority of web sites and web applications are still not fully accessible to everyone. Overall, I think theres a misconception that a ‘Web 2.0’ site cant be cool or fun and be accessible at the same time; its actually quite possible."
– Dennis Lembree of WebOverhauls

Accessible Twitter is already garnering international praise from across the web:

"Accessible Twitter offers an important alternative to web-based Twitter – it is accessible not just by people with various disabilities, but is more useful to everyone needing to access Twitter through keyboard-only. The presentation of tweets is clearer, not as cluttered. And links to all options are easy to find. Great stuff!"
– Nicolas Steenhout of Accessibility NZ

"Accessible Twitter not only addresses the accessibility flaws of the original site, but also introduces usability features that make ‘tweeting’ easier for all web-based users."
– Matt Smith of Smiffytech

"Accessible Twitter is a thoroughly useful tool, well designed and perfectly suited for people who have vision loss. It is an indispensable part of my every day, enabling me to connect with potential clients on the same playing field as my non-disabled counterparts."
– Laura Legendary of Legendary Insights (a visually impaired daily user of Accessible Twitter)

Accessible Twitter has been mentioned in numerous articles and books including The Twitter Book by O’Reilly Media. Accessible Twitter was the recipient of 2009 Access IT @web2.0 Award.

For more about Accessible Twitter, visit: http://www.accessibletwitter.com.

#####

About Web Overhauls

Web Overhauls is a web development company specializing in web standards, usability, and accessibility. Web Overhauls develops web sites for small to medium-sized businesses with a focus on improving existing web sites for better usability and accessibility. 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, creator AccessibleTwitter.com and author of Web Axe, a podcast and blog about web accessibility.

For more information, visit http://www.weboverhauls.com or email weboverhauls [AT] gmail DOT com.