Texting is a perfect example of what AoMS is about–a mainstream technology that is seamlessly relevant to one or more groups of people with disabilities, in this case people with hearing or speech disabilities. However, when texting could be most valuable–in emergency situations–it’s been unsupported by 911 call centers. The FCC is aiming to change that by upgrading the system to accept not only text but also digital images, which could be critical for people with communication skills impaired either by disability or the urgency of the situation.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) tested support for HTML5 among commonly-used browsers, and found that Internet Explorer 9 does the overall best job. However, these results are not entirely consistent with the accessibility-focused review of HTML5 being done by the Paciello Group (which gives the nod to the current Firefox beta), and some accessibility items seem to not be covered in the W3C testing. La luta continua.
Using an Apple iPhone app, L.A. citizens can now take a picture of a broken sidewalk or other municipal flaw and send it directly to the city government for instant relief. How about reporting blocked curbcuts or illegal use of handicapped parking spaces?
Apple has patented a technique to hide sensors beneath the skin of a product. They will be completely invisible and undiscernible any other way as well (in direct contravention of 1194.23(k)(1) of Section 508, which is now under review). But embedded LEDs may announce their presence via patterns of micro-holes drilled by frickin’ lasers.
We love seamless input devices, we really do. We’re sleek as seals ourselves. But unless there is some redundant alternative or accessibility technique, blind and low vision users are going to be excluded.
Coding kvetch: A perusal of the Apple Developer notes for designing websites to be compatible with the iPad shows that one of the guidelines discourages exclusive use of mouse-specific event handlers such as mouseover and mouseout. Instead, they encourage use of Safari-specific DOM Touch events. Would it be possible for us to all get along on a universal scale by using hardware- and browser-independent event handlers such as onfocus and onblur?
To the list of disabilities that technology use emulates–like ADD–we can now add “inattentional blindness,” which causes cell phone users to miss blatant changes in their visual field, such as the appearance of a brightly-dressed clown on a unicycle. In lieu of requiring that all cell phone use occur inattent, maybe some more concerted compliance with architectural regs about reducing environmental hazards for blind folks could lower accident rates among walking talkers as well.
So why is our attention piqued by Windows 7 XP Mode, which will let “small and medium-sized businesses running Windows 7 Professional or higher leverage their existing investments in Windows XP applications”? Well, some assistive technology products never came out in a Vista version, and many others will take awhile to release Win7-native versions. If XP Mode is a way for businesses to upgrade to Win7 without interrupting accessibility, it will prevent a lot of migraines.