Assistive Technology

Persons with dexterity disabilities may have little or no motor control in their hands to perform daily tasks. Many of them (including yours truly) still can operate the computer using one hand, one foot, eyes, a headpointer or a mouth stick. Adaptive keyboards and switches can facilitate persons with dexterity impairments to use computers. Accessibility features in an operating system can further enable users who cannot use their hands to type on keyboards easily.

RocketKeys is a new augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) keyboard that can be configured to any size or other specifications. Developed by MyVoice, Inc., this adaptive keyboard accommodates users with dexterity and vision impairments. The talking onscreen keyboard also has word prediction.

For further details, go to the RocketKeys website.

ZoomText is a software program combines magnification and enhancements to colors, pointers and cursors to help users who are visually impaired see everything on the computer screen. The Mac version includes the following features:

  • Flexible magnification
  • Font smoothing
  • Image sharpening
  • Tracking
  • Zoom windows
  • Enhanced screen colors
  • Customizable system pointers and cursors
  • Focus enhancements

ZoomText Mac is available for a special promotional price of $299.  If you already own a ZoomText single-user license on the PC - for you, ZoomText Mac is just $149. BUT, until March 15th, it's just $99!

Ensure that your product works with assistive technology

Assistive technology (AT) is a term that describes the tools that people with disabilities use to access websites and applications. To ensure compatibility between the assistive technology and your product, Interactive Accessibility will confirm that assistive technology can work with the product and that the product is usable for people with disabilities. 

Stephen Hawking, the renowned physicist who has severe disabilities, has sought help from Intel to develop a system that would facilitate faster communication. Presently, Hawking uses a twitch of his cheek to communicate through a voice synthesizer, which results in one word per minute. Intel would utilize other facial expressions to develop a more efficient communication system for him.

To learn more, read Chipmaker Races to Save Stephen Hawking’s Speech as His Condition Deteriorates.

This is the first in a series of blog posts about mobile accessibility testing for mobile phones and tablets.

When testing for mobile accessibility use the devices and OS that will be supported by the website or application and that have decent accessibility support. Most of the time, this is includes iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android (phones mostly, and some tablets) which are the most common mobile devices used today in the United States.

The leading screen reader from Freedom Scientific just released a new version. In JAWS version 14, there is now support for Windows 8 and it also includes many other features and enhancements:

  • Flexible Web for smoother reading - this feature hides sections of content such as Google ad frames and JAWS can now be configured to start ready at the ARIA main landmark or the apge h1 heading
  • Easier selection of text in HTML page
  • Unwanted Flash and Frame announcements removed - JAWS 14 now filters out empty flash and frames objects to make the page reading as smooth as possible
  • ARIA is now fully supported - all of the latest industry standard ARIA tags and elements that can be applied to Web pages are now supported. See JAWS Support for ARIA (Word file) for more details.
  • New commands to move from one separator to another - pressing the Navigation Quick Key Dash or Shift + Dash to move to the next or previous separator (<hr> HTML tag) in IE or Firefox

View the complete list of JAWS 14 enhancements.

Resources

Many websites provide important information in PDF documents but they are often not accessible, which means that readers with disabilities miss the information. Most PDFs can be made accessible in a small number of steps that will seem familiar if you have created accessible HTML.

The new beta  version of GW Micro's product, Window-Eyes, was released on Monday October 22.  Window-Eyes is one of the leading screen readers that users with visual impairments use to produce an auditory version of the information on the computer screen.

Learn more about Window-Eyes.

New Window-Eyes 8.0 features:

  • Application now runs in Windows Safe Mode, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
  • Support for JAVA applications such as OpenOffice
  • Remote assistance features
  • Improved support for Outlook 2007 and 2010
  • Performance enhancements
  • New keyboard layout

Internet Enhancements include:

  • Support for Internet Explorer 10 - Window-Eyes 8.0 Beta 1 includes full support for Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 as well as both the desktop and modern apps in Windows 8

  • WAI-ARIA for rich internet applications is now supported outside of Browse Mode in Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox

  • Updated Tab Handling - To improve general website navigation, presses of the Tab and Shift-Tab keys are now passed directly to the underlying browser. Therefore, any dynamic web applications which use ARIA controls or that specify a custom Tab order will now work seamlessly when you are in or out of Browse Mode.

  • Automatic Form Interaction - there is now an option to automatically turn Browse Mode off whenever a form element is reached via the Tab or Shift-Tab keys.  Note that you can always re-enable Browse Mode by pressing Control-Shift-A or, new in Window-Eyes 8.0 Beta 1, with the Escape key. It is important to remember that the automatic toggling of Browse Mode only applies when you are Tabbing through websites. Navigating by any other means (such as with the Arrows or dedicated Browse Mode element keys) will leave you in browse Mode as they always have.

  • The expand and collapse state of drop down boxes are now announced

  • HTML message boxes are now being read in Firefox 4 and newer

See a full list of new features.

Resources:

The next update in the ZoomText 10 was released today. The enhancements include fixes to issues including reading support in Gmail, some AppReader bugs in Comcast Mail and in Internet Explorer 8, a fix for Java, and more! 

For more information on ZoomText 10, go to the AiSquared ZoomText website.

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