Monday, November 30, 2009

Next generation CAPTCHAs

I know, I know it is ages since I posted. And it is with some regret that I'm posting about bad news - yes, just when some solutions to CAPTCHAs (those pesky images of words that are inaccessible to screen readers) are around, like the CAPTCHA killer, that work is underway on the next generation. And, reading this New Scientist article, it looks like these will be even more formidable barriers to overcome.

Yes that's right. When an image of a word that is invisible to screen readers isn't bad enough, lets take an image, animate it and distort it, and ask you to count the animals shown on it. So now, not only are screen reader users screwed, but anyone with low vision will be as well. And I can't imagine users with learning disabilities will find it easy either...

You may argue that an accessible alternative can be provided - an audio CAPTCHA for example - but if you have tried using those, then you'll know that these are generally no kind of alternative at all. And what about deafblind users?

I appreciate that spam is a real pain in the butt. I mean, I get loads of it every day, so I really would love to see something that works. But surely, in this day an age, we should be working on inclusive solutions?

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Autism-friendly cinema

Here's something I've not come across before. I went to The Ritzy Cinema in London at the weekend to see 'Read Before Burning' - for those interested, it's not bad, but not the Coen brothers at their finest, either. But, to get to the point, The Ritzy puts on autism-friendly events.

As some people with autism have sensitivity to sound and light, for these shows the volume of the movies is turned down a bit, and some low lights are left on. Afterwards, The Ritzy lays on light refreshments for cinema-goers to meet and chat.

I thought this was pretty cool. Obviously, it won't appeal to everyone on the autism spectrum, but I'm sure that there are some people out there who will love it.

I'm sure other cinemas have these kind of events as well, but since I came across it first at The Ritzy - hats off to them.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

audio CAPTCHA survey

I've not tried this myself, but I understand it is an interesting and fun survey on audio CAPTCHAs from WebInSight.

CAPTCHAs are those images of letters designed to stop automatic spammers but that don't play well with screen reader software. Audio CAPTCHAs provide a good alternative for some people, but I'm personally hoping someone comes up with something completely different. A visual CAPTCHA and an audio alternative are still no good for deafblind people.

As I'm having a moan about this, I would expect better from W3C who suggest an audio alternative to visual CAPTCHAs in the explanation notes for the new accessibility guidelines, WCAG 2.0. At best, they haven't thought that through.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Blogging against Disablism day

Just a quick entry right now as time is not my friend today. But I had to mark Blogging against Disablism day.

Organised by Diary of a Goldfish, today sees a number of bloggers writing about a wide variety of issues. I know from last year that many of these blogs are well worth a read, and can range from moving to insightful and hysterically funny - sometimes all three...

If I get the chance to sit down with a cup of coffee to read some I'll try and pick out some of my highlights from this year's event. But in the meantime, go and have a browse.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Badware. Harumph..

As if spam wasn't bad enough.

I can't tell you how much time I spend clearing out fake reviews of websites on net-guide, because working it out would scare me about much time I spend doing it.

Now net-guide has a health warning on Google, thanks to someone hacking the website to distribute badware.

I've sorted the issue out, so feel free to browse without fear of infection. But net-guide will suffer from a dip in traffic and a blow to the brand because of it.

OK, maybe I could have made it more secure. But I shouldn't have to.

Still, lesson learned the hard way. Onwards and onwards...


Monday, April 28, 2008

Gene therapy breakthrough for sight

BBC News is reporting an interesting story about a young man who has had his sight restored following gene therapy.

This treatment is at a very early stage, and has only been tried with a total of three patients, of which only one has benefited from significant improvement to their sight.

Gene therapy remains an exciting prospect however, precisely because it is at such an early stage of development. Who knows what conditions will be treatable in the future?

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Anywhere, anytime...

I discovered a new web-based screen reader today. This new program, called WebAnywhere, sounds like it could be quite exciting.

Because WebAnywhere is browser based, no software needs to be installed on a computer. That means that a user isn't tied in to a specific computer. It can be used at a friends house or in an internet cafe - on any computer, so long as it has a sound card.

There are similar screen reader programs out there already. But there's nothing wrong with a bit of choice.

WebAnywhere is scheduled for an alpha release - which is the earliest stage of development - at the end of May. In the meantime, the website has more information about what WebAnywhere can do.