Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Showcase: Accessibility for the disabled computer user

This showcase will be presented in several posts, so as to break up the length of it. While it is rather extensive, I have barely scratched the surface of all that is available to research in this field. I am piqued, and will revisit the topic often. Without further ado...

Accessibility tools for disabled computer users


The computer is no longer a single-dimensioned tool to be utilized for functional purposes alone. It has become, as we are exploring in depth, a place for socialization and socializing to happen. The computer offers many different facets to the individual, from the functionality of word processing, spreadsheets, calculator features, and agenda/calendar/datebook aspects, to the social aspects of chatware and voice chat. The Internet has afforded computer users tremendous ability to reach out across time and space, make new friends, keep in touch with old friends or faraway family members, and enjoy the excitement of mingling with others even as they remain in the comfort of their own homes.

But for a long time, the disabled computer user was prevented these affordances due to the various limitations placed upon him/her. Visually challenged, the hearing impaired/deaf, quadriplegic, even color-blind users were left out of the new revolution, unable to fully take advantage of the web at its best. Now, though, there are a myriad tools and sites to bring the World Wide Web home to everyone. For the purpose of this showcase, the challenges facing the visually impaired – given the nature of computing in general – will be the bulk of the research, while accessibility on the web will also be covered, and a brief note on hearing impairment and computer users who face those challenges. It would be impossible to cover all challenges facing the disabled in this one showcase but has sparked the desire to go on and do the research for future projects or merely for the sake of the knowledge. Technology is a burgeoning field, and accessibility tools are being developed just as quickly as the technology moves. There is a lot out there, but much left to go.

Accessibility refers to the ability for many types of users to be able to access the web (or computer software/tools) including those with disabilities. Not only are there tools in order to help the disabled, but there are rules governing pages on the internet, where those pages are specifically government and educational sites; these sites must follow the guidelines of the W3C, to be covered in this showcase.

1 comment:

CanadaQuad said...

Hi,I know all about it.I'm a C3-4 Quad with no moter movement below the neck. I use a Origin Instruments headmouse (orin.com) and people are shocked to see the cursor moving by moveing my head.
I have a monitor stand so I can use it in bed and I couldn't hack it without it now.
Any Question's=canadaquad@yahoo.com