Category Archives: advocacy

Amazon Accessibility

So if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know about my fairly recent addiction haha! I think I first ordered from Amazon months ago, just to give it a try. But it wasn’t until recently that I really started using it. Back when I first started using it, I could review items. It was tricky, and not clear, but I was able to select stars. Well, they’ve done something and now I can no longer select stars, and therefore, can’t review. I rely heavily on customer reviews. Product descriptions usually suck, so I read the reviews to get a better description of the product. I won’t buy anything with less than 4 stars.

Recently I wrote to Amazon and I cannot for the life of me remember why. I must have been in that winter fog or something, and I didn’t keep what I wrote. But I did keep the reply, which mentioned their “accessible site” which I looked at for a minute and laughed. It’s the mobile site, and it sucks. Now, I use the mobile Facebook, and I like it. I don’t get all that fluff. The here is a pretty sparkly star to decorate your wall because you are a shining star, stuff. But with Amazon, I want the fluff. I want to review items.

So yesterday I got an email asking me to rate the seller of a recent purchase. I didn’t think it would work, but I followed the link, and low and behold, the stars option worked like a charm. It had clearly labeled links. I was able to rate all my sellers, including the dreaded ring seller. They all got glowing reviews, except the ring siller who got a 2. But I digress. I thought, maybe if that worked, I can review products now. Nope. Still the same. I even tried group mode with Alex to no avail.

So I dug out that email they had sent in reply to the email I can’t remember writing, and I wrote their accessibility department. Below is the email they sent me weeks ago, followed by the email I sent last night. They actually did make a great change to their “my orders” page, which I pointed out. I’ve got a few more suggestions for them if they write back. I’ll update here as this goes. Blinks, if you have any issues with Amazon you’d like to address, the following email from them has their accessibility email address, or you can tell me and I’ll include it in any future correspondence. You know I live for this stuff 😉

Oh, I had copied and pasted the email address because for some reason clicking it didn’t work. There is a period right after .com so make sure you delete that.

***

Hello from Amazon.com.

Thank you very much for your feedback. While the Amazon.com website is generally usable for people with screen readers, we’re always looking for ways to improve usability of the site for all customers, including those with disabilities. To that end, we have formed an alliance with the National Federation of the Blind to work together to improve the accessibility of our website platform in the coming months and years.

In case you weren’t aware, Amazon.com has for many years offered a different version of our site optimized for screen readers and mobile devices at: www.amazon.com/access

We’ve also gathered together products for the visually impaired (such as large print and Braille books, and voice-recognition software). I hope you find this store helpful: www.amazon.com/visuallyimpaired

We always appreciate suggestions on how we can improve the shopping experience at Amazon.com, and I’m forwarding your feedback to the team responsible for website accessibility. If you have additional feedback for our website accessibility team, you may contact them directly at accessibility-feedback@amazon.com.

Please Note: We cannot respond personally to messages sent to the feedback e-mail address. If you have a question or need help with your account or an open order, please contact Customer Service by visiting our Help pages at www.amazon.com/help and clicking the Contact Us button in the left-hand column.

Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.

***

Hi there, 

I am blind and use a screen reader. I recently became very active on Amazon as it is so convenient for me to shop independently. However, I’m having some issues. I used to be able to leave reviews for products, but I can no longer select the number of stars. There is nothing to select. I just heard “please select stars” or something. Today, I was asked to leave seller feedback, and there I could select stars. They appeared as links I could click, with a clear description. I was hoping this would work for products now, but it did not. 

I use an Apple computer with Voiceover and Leopard with Safari. 

I find the mobile site an insult as a solution for screen reader users. It leaves out options, such as writing reviews at all. This might be fine for mobile devices, but as a screen reader user, I want the same options as sighted users. Please do not suggest I use that site. 

I do have a compliment though. I really like the new “my orders” page. This set up is lovely! First, I can navigate my orders by heading, which is great. Additionally, I love the “track your package” link. It is wonderful to have the latest tracking information so readily available. I would love to see the heading option on the main search pages, as scrolling to different products is quite tedious. I’ve heard this complaint among other blind people as well. 

I will never stop using Amazon. I wish to tell you though, that I’ve had countless screen reader users tell me they won’t even touch Amazon, which is a shame. If I can help in any way, I would love the opportunity. I would also like to leave reviews because I rely on reviews to buy things. Product descriptions are usually pretty weak, so I rely on what others say, and would like to do the same for the wonderful products I have found. 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration of my suggestions. 

***

Well I just listened to their email again, and it sounds like they won’t respond directly from the accessibility email. Hmmm. But, the same thing was true with Facebook, and I had a human write me, so here’s hoping.

Also, I had forgotten that the NFB was involved. I wonder if the NFB thought the mobile site was good enough. Ick. I’m all ACB all the time hahaha!

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Filed under ACB, accessibility, advocacy, Alex, Amazon, assistive technologies, letters, proud geek, screen reader, Voiceover

Thank you GM

GM is working with the NFB, National Federation of the Blind, to create a sound for their Chevy Volt hybrid. woo hooo!!!!

Man, I hope the other car makers follow suit. I’m glad GM is one of the first. I’m kind of surprised, with all the troubles they are having. They are actually willing to spend the money to figure this out. Or maybe it’s that legislation that is making them take action. I’d rather think it’s because they actually care, but maybe I’m a little too warm and fuzzy. I think I really feel for GM because they’ve just been hit so hard with this recession.

Here’s to more manufacturer’s looking at this problem!

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Filed under advocacy, gratitude

ACB – International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Forwarded to me from my ACB list:
***

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 2, 2009
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES, 2009

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

This year, in an effort to renew our global commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms for persons with disabilities, the United States became a proud signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This treaty represents a paradigm shift, urging equal protection and benefits for all citizens, and reaffirming the inherent dignity and independence of the 650 million people living with disabilities worldwide. Today, as we commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we celebrate the skills, achievements, and contributions of persons with disabilities in America and around the world. We recognize the progress we have made toward equality for all, and we rededicate ourselves to ensuring individuals with disabilities can reach their greatest potential.

Despite our increased efforts, persons with disabilities continue to face barriers to their full participation in society. In the United States, Americans with disabilities still experience discrimination in the workplace and in their communities. In developing nations, 90 percent of children with disabilities do not attend school, and women and girls with disabilities are all too often subjected to deep discrimination. If we are to move forward as a people, both at home and abroad, all individuals must be fully integrated into our human family. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a time to renew our commitment to the principles of empowerment, dignity, and equality. The United States has co-sponsored and joined consensus on the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee’s resolution titled, “Realizing the Millennium Development Goals for Persons with Disabilities.” We must continue to embrace diversity and reject discrimination in all its forms, and insist on equality of opportunity and accessibility for all. Let our efforts remind us that when we work together, we can build a world free of unnecessary barriers and include every member of our international community.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, more do hereby proclaim December 3, 2009, as International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I call on all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

BARACK OBAMA

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Filed under ACB, advocacy, gratitude

More Facebook – A human

I am breaking through my brain fog to paste some more. I got another reply from Facebook. I’m posting his reply and what I wrote back in response to his question, because I think it’s important that we advocate for ourselves and others, and I am very happy so far with what I’ve heard. I got a response back from an actual person, which is why I’m posting the whole email, because even though this is a public blog, hopefully he won’t mind rhe recognition, as I think he deserves it. So I had just replied with a snarky “guess I’m out of luck since I can’t use the main site” and here is how he responded, followed by my reply:

***

Thanks for your reply. If possible, could you provide more information on the problems you’re encountering with the main site? The more feedback you provide on your experience, the better equipped we will be to improve the site for you. We appreciate your help and apologize for the inconvenience you’ve incurred so far.

Thanks,

Kristjan
User Operations
Facebook
***
Hi Chris,

Thank you for wanting to know more; that is a rarity. I can’t say exactly what it is about the main site other than it’s just too complicated. I use a screen reader, so trying to figure out where I am on the main site is a pain. It jumps all over the place, to adds and what not. And for some reason it always takes me to one friend’s profile. There are too many options, too much clutter.

The mobile site is perfect. Simple. All I have to scroll through are status updates and the news feed. There is just a comment and like link. It’s super simple.

going to the main site is too much of a headache. I’ve spoken to other screen reader users about the sudden captcha and almost all of them use the mobile site as well. One mentioned the lite site, but that one was too complicated too.

It just really bothers me that when I signed up and did the text message, it told me I would never have a captcha again, and now I’m getting them. It only seems to happen with some links on my status.

Also, suddenly there are several friends who’s updates do not appear on my page, and I never did a hide thing, since those links aren’t on the mobile site. I’ve also got a group invitation that sounded hackish so I’ve tried to reject it, and it won’t go away. That has happened since the captcha deal.

The audio captcha really isn’t a solution, as a lot of times, they aren’t clear, and my cursor doesn’t end up in the box, so my reader talks on top of the audio. I’ve also got a friend who’s blind and deaf. She’s disturbed about the captchas as well, but can tolerate the main site.

So sorry for the book, but you asked 😉 Again, thank you very very much for responding.
***

I will keep updating on this.

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Filed under accessibility, advocacy, CAPTCHA, letters, proud geek, screen reader, spoons

Heard from Facebook

Well, this is the last of the 30 in 30 posts thank goodness haha. I’m totally brain fogged and spooned out today, so I’m just gonna paste the email from FB. I had nother really cute post in mind today but just don’t have the energy.

Now I won’t have to post if I’m brain foggy and out of spoons 😉 Was fun writing a post a day, and probably will write close to that anyway, but not having to anymore will bea relief.

FB reply:

We appreciate your email. We provide an audio captcha alternative on the main site for any instance of a text captcha. This should allow you to post the link. Posting some links may require that you complete a captcha. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Please let us know if you need any further assistance.

Thanks,

Kristjan
User Operations
***

He’s lucky I have no spoons. I just wrote back that I guess I’m out of luck then since I can’t use the mains ite. I can, but hate it. This fight is not over. I will keep on this when I have energy again.

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Filed under accessibility, advocacy, CAPTCHA, letters, NaBloPoMo 2009, proud geek, spoons

Adding “alt text” to images

Alrighty, I think I’ve got some good stuff.

First, I would like to say thank you again to everyone who is interested in doing this. Its been fun for me to learn more about this too. In fact, I just learned that by adding alt text to images, it helps with search optimization. So, if your blog contains a picture of a dog on a flexi, and someone searches the blogs for “flexi”, your image description can actualy help your blog come up in search results.

I just read this on the first link I’m going to provide, which is actually a blogger post explaining how and why to add alt text in Blogger. Click here to read more.

The following links are linds to other articles about adding the alt text, and some of it is pretty technical, but interesting nonetheless. I think the blog post will be most helpful though, and thats why I put it first.

Here’s another, and another, and yet another.

So those are all links about the actual code it takes to add alt text. But now, what if you’re linking to an image in say Photobucket or Flickr? Here, I don’t know if Blogger’s html editor will help. You might actually need to find in Photobucket or Flickr or wherever you’re uploading from, how to add the alt text there.

Now that you know how to add the alt text, you could actually go to your photo hosting site, and see about adding alt tags there, too. Now, I don’t know if when you upload the photo, it will do this, or not. Its not something I asked, just something that was pointed out by Steve.

So, hopefully this will help. I might should have gone and searched about the photo hosting issue, but I’ve been kinda working all morning, not the actual job, but doing the whole advocacy thing when it comes to Facebook. I narrowed down the problem to one link I was trying to post, which I’ve posted before, so I don’t know why I’m getting another security check. So thats my excuse for not searching about the photohosting and alt text.

If there are still more problems, like if you upload a photo from a web hosting site and can’t add an alt text, let me know and I’ll look into it.

Thanks again to the guys and gals at Webaim for sending me this info.

Happy programming!

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Filed under accessibility, advocacy, gratitude, NaBloPoMo 2009, plugs, proud geek, techie tips

Attack of the CAPTCHA

This is an email I actually sent to accessibility+nnscjnr@facebook.com

***

Dear Facebook,

When I signed up for my account, I needed sighted assistance, as I am blind and use a screen reader. During sign up, I was told that if I replied to a text message and proved I was human, I would never ever get a CAPTCHA again. My friend helped me reply to the text message and I never received another CAPTCHA.

Until now.

I tried to update my status, and it is telling me to do a security check and solve the CAPTCHA. I tried logging off and back on. Same problem. I use m.facebook.com, because your full site is not accessible to me, or I should say, incredibly difficult.

I promptly sent an email to my email list of other blind folks who Facebook, and they are experiencing the same problem. One of the members has some vision, but after 7 attempts, could not solve the CAPTCHA. She was however able to update her status on the main site. She is luckier than I.

This is not acceptable. Many blind and visually impaired folks use your mobile site to connect with friends and family. This problem needs to be resolved. An audio CAPTCHA isn’t even available, but still would not be a solution, as many of us can’t solve them anyway, and some of us are deaf as well as blind.

I hope I did not come across too rude. I made myself calm down before emailing you.

***

I am so angry right now.

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Filed under accessibility, advocacy, CAPTCHA, letters, NaBloPoMo 2009, rant, screen reader

Fun fun fun

Ah today has been fab so far. B went to work and I was feeling fine. I think it almost becomes psychosomatic when he’s sick. Like I think I will be too, because he is. Plus, like I stated yesterday, I suddenly got so inactive, and that really takes a toll on how I’m feeling physically.

So this morning I had my coffee and got caught up on emails and talked to Grandma, and we tried to find a phone number for another place to have Thanksgiving dinner at. We’ve run out of women who can cook. Its just down to me and Grandma, she doesn’t have the energy, and I don’t have the skills quite yet. So we’re trying to find a place to go for Thanksgiving.

I got in the shower early, because they’re working on the water in the complex, and its gonna be shut off from 10am to 2pm. I remembered Sunday night to fill up a water jug so I don’t freak out about afternoon coffee haha!

Carol had called so I called her back, and she has gotten a really cool opportunity for possible part-time work, just like I have. So we talked about that for awhile and again, it was so nice to talk to a human. Then Kevin came over at 11:30 for the meeting, which was so great. It was so good to see him, since he works out of town a lot, and so great to get out and get some sun.

I hadn’t been to the meeting since before I started working out, and everyone I ran in to said how amazing I look. Yay ego boost! And hard work is paying off. I never hear it from B because he sees me every day, so it was great to hear it from people I haven’t seen in awhile.

A few months ago, an incident happened at the meeting, someone shouted at someone else, dropping f-bombs left and right, and it scared the hell outta me. I haven’t been back. Things were deteriorating before that already, so it was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was at an evening meeting, so I chose a noon meeting where its more calm. One of the people who had been in the fight was there, and said it was good to see me, and I hadn’t been there in awhile.

I spoke my mind. I told him exactly why. I said, when you and that guy had that shouting match, it scared the hell out of me. That is not appropriate for a meeting. That is not ok. He apologized and said he hopes he sees me again, and I said today was a test. I said I won’t be at the evening meeting still, because its gotten rediculous. Its gotten to be the same kind of behavior that goes on in bars, and I didn’t get sober for that. He actually thanked me for telling him.

So I felt good about that. I worked on being assertive in therapy, rather than just letting people behave in ways that are bad, just because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Progress.

After the meeting, we were getting in Kevin’s truck and this other guy was like, I really admire what you shared in the meeting, and I’ve been watching your journey. How long have you been blind? Without missing a beat, Kevin said,”since she couldn’t see.” Hahaha!!! I love it!

He took me to the grocery store and at checkout was running my card for me, and the clert, who knows him said something like, man he can’t even see, you should see how close his face is to the machine. LOL!! It was just so fun, making blind and sighted jokes all day.

We got some energy drinks, which I only drink every so often these days, because for awhile I drank them all the time and it got ugly. We sat on my front porch and chatted, and it was just so nice!

So now I’m relaxing and getting caught up on blogger before choir tonight. Yay human interaction! 😉

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Filed under accomplishment, advocacy, coffeeholic, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, humor as coping skill, NaBloPoMo 2009, random stuff, sobriety, spoons, workouts

WebAIM screen reader survey results

I took this survey, as well as the one before it. Here are the most recent results.

apple users, we’re getting a little more recognition, primarily when it comes to cost. The survey showed that more experienced users are likely to try these cost effective alternatives. I wish I had been blogging, as I would have posted the link for the survey here. I will definitly keep the blog apprised of WebAIM info. I love them, and have learned so much from them, as far as web accessibility goes.

This survey takes awhile to read though, if you’re focusing on all the questions and responses, so I’d recommend having about twenty minutes of free time, which is why I couldn’t look at it yesterday 😉

I especially like the CAPTCHA results, and they mention that these can be made accessible, as well as flash. Most of the blame is being put on developers, and not screen readers.

Enjoy!

I just realized this survey was done in October, and I had the blog then. Why didn’t I link to it? Hmmm. Slacker.

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Filed under accessibility, advocacy, assistive technologies, CAPTCHA, NaBloPoMo 2009, plugs, proud geek, screen reader, silly girl, Voiceover

What the…didn’t she already post today?

Yes, yes I did. But I’m posting again. Because well, I feel like it.

I’m labeling everything with 30×30 just to see how many posts I do this month, even though I can just look at the archive. Kinda silly. Oh well.

I wanted to mention my freak out yesterday about guide dog school. I can’t begin to say how much it helped, due to all the comments I got. I’m now totally relaxing about the whole thing, instead of getting frantic about people not getting paperwork in, or O & M lessons being cancelled. I remember my friend Sarah broke her foot, and it was the best thing that happened to her, because it made her slow down.

I’m slowing down on all this. I’ve been pushing so hard that I felt my spoons start dwindling big time. Spoons? Yes, spoons. Click here to read about the Spoon Theory when it comes to explaining chronic illness.

Today I found myself doing nothing. I’m still not even out of my night clothes. I finally made my bed when I was on the phone with Carol, thank you blue tooth for letting my hands be free. I’m not going to say I wasn’t productive. I always say that when I have a lazy day. Oh I wasn’t productive. I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that. When in all actuality, I was productive because I was replenishing spoons. Its when I have days in a row like this that I worry. But I can tell it was the right thing today, to just live on blogger, because I don’t feel guilty in the slightest.

Soon I’ll need to get ready for choir. I haven’t practiced all week. Why bother? I know it all too well, so well in fact that I’m bored at rehearsal. Everyone gets stuck at certain places and we work it over and over. I killed myself practicing with the cds and all I did was learn it too fast, when I could have just gone to rehearsal every week and practiced the same line 10 times.

I’m not complaining. I’m actually bragging. Its one thing I’m not too humble about, singing. Especially learning music blind for the first time and having it work almost too well. Thank you Maegan.

I’m even looking forward to the dreaded Sleighbells. This song is where I think I’ll actually be glad if women have questions so hopefully I can get past the one little spot thats screwing me up. It’ll also be nice to figure out exactly where all the jing a ling a lings fit.

I think Lish just signed on for our Tuesday chat. She has the coolest job. She’s a job coach, so she sits in the student union with her laptop and watches the employee being coached, but she’s paid to chat and watch The Office on hulu.

Oh I forgot to mention when I was talking about guide dogs, that I heard from the other lady who hadn’t sent in the paperwork. She said she never got it, and was calling the school. I’m not all paniced about it today though. It’ll happen when it happens. I’m even starting to think I’m not quite ready to go in Jan. or Feb.

I did get a rescheduled O & M lesson for tomorrow, which is nice, because Dave can take me to Saavi afterwards for my workout, and I’ll just need to take SunVan home, which is better than taking it both ways.

So, I chilled, spent an entire day talking to my favorite Canadians, ate peach pie for lunch, and everything worked out.

Nice how that happens, eh?

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, advocacy, Choir, faith, fellowship, gratitude, guide dogs, NaBloPoMo 2009, pooch preparation, silly girl, spoons