Posts Tagged ‘rlsb’

Talking about Conversational Internet

Friday, November 30th, 2012

I’ve written about some of the talks at Everybody Technology which was an event about how to make technology inclusive.

I gave a short talk there, too. It was about my Conversational Internet project. I’ve written about it a few times already now, so I won’t rehash it here, but I talked about the Extreme Blue prototype and some of the work that’s been done since.

Luckily for fans of funny voices everywhere, it was recorded.

Everybody Technology : Conversational Internet


Everybody Technology

Friday, November 30th, 2012

This afternoon I went to Everybody Technology, an event to discuss the need for technology to be inclusive and made in a way that is “so smart, so simple and so powerful it works for everybody”.

A highlight of the afternoon was Stephen Hawking – perhaps one of the best examples of the power of technology to enable someone to reach their potential. He also supported the event by lending his voice to a promotional video which explains the idea better than I can.

“Who is Technology Made For?” (YouTube)

There were several speakers. I won’t do them justice, but I did jot a few notes…


The Conversational Internet

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Imagine using the Internet as a blind person.

As an occasional web-developer, I had some awareness of the importance of accessibility for the web, but to be honest it was pretty superficial. You just add ALT tags to your images, make sure you can tab between all the controls on the page, and a screen-reader will sort out the rest, right?

I went to an event in London a couple of weeks ago, where the reality was brought home to me.

Screen-readers are not as intelligent or as helpful as I’d assumed. They just read out everything on the page.

Imagine a typical modern web app… for example, facebook. Start reading everything on the page, from the top left of the page, and carry on until you reach the bottom right. Imagine what that might be like.

The best analogy I can think of is to try and picture the worst possible automated phone menu experience. The sort of one where they read you a long list of almost-unintelligible options: “for blah-blah-blah, press 1, for blather-blather-blather, press 2, for something-or-other, press 3 …. for something-else-vague, press 9 …

None of the options seem like an exact match for the task that you have in mind, and by the time you’ve got to the end, you can’t remember whether the option that sounded sort of vaguely similar was option 3 or option 4…

Imagine that for a web page. Apparently, a screen-reader can take three or four minutes to read out the contents of a typical web page today. Can you imagine an automated phone system that spent four minutes listing your options, then expected you to try and choose which one you wanted?

That’s the experience that many blind people face when trying to use modern web apps that we take for granted.

ALT tags are all well and good, but making a web page accessible isn’t the same as making it usable.

So… as geeks with a passion for technology and an interest in making the web useful to all, what can we do?