Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Web Accessibility and iTunes

There is plenty to blog about again this time round. We are busy but need a holiday after working very hard through the so-called UK Summer.

DDA Accessibility Laws:
The American Store Target will revamp its Web site to make it more accessible for the blind and pay $6 million in damages to plaintiffs who joined a class action lawsuit against the retailer, under a settlement announced with the National Federation of the Blind. The $6 million will be placed in an interest-bearing account so that plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in California two years ago, can make claims. Most plaintiffs will get about $3,500, an NFB spokesman said.

Under the settlement, the Baltimore-based NFB will test the Web site for three years and certify it once it is completely upgraded. The lawsuit was filed after earlier negotiations between the two sides broke down.

Many blind people use screen-reading software such as Thunder that vocalizes information on a computer, but Web sites must be made accessible for the technology. The lawsuit complained that Target.com was not accessible.

But our Screenreader.net contention goes further. Accessibility is far more than a software package and a legal decision. Most blind people can never raise the cash to buy costly assistive software and, even if they do, training, patience and a level of computer skill is required far above that of the average seeing user who clicks a mouse on what she sees.

But, on the assumption that many things come over to Europe from across the pond, we should sit up and take notice that the law will soon be more strongly on the side of the blind user here too. Maybe it won’t be long before a courageous blind person here, with the backing of a courageous blind agency, will strike a similar blow in the UK or within a European country. I never thought I would be taking such a stance!!! Its just that the years go by and still government, local councils and the private sector in general continue to take the micky, talk the talk and fail to actually make computer accessibility and usability available to the mass of ordinary blind and partially sighted people, even in some Western wealthy countries.

Such access really is the modern Braille and a great way to mainstream blind people so all power and well done to the American pioneers.

The Worsening Economic situation:
We have had the good times here in the West and the coming year or two look not so good. But Screenreader.net will not be changing the price of free Thunder. We will never be wealthy here but are financially secure for the future because we don’t need paying for the work we do and we don’t need buildings and expensive staff.

But we do have ongoing expenses like everyone else and we do, therefore, ask that if you value the Thunder software and want to make a donation towards its upkeep, this would be very welcome indeed.

iTunes, LastFM and the BBC iplayer:
Like me, many of you will enjoy listening to music, listen again radio and TV programs etc. So now, as well as being able to enjoy LastFM and the BBC iplayer,

iTunes V8 works well too. For those who don’t know, LastFM.com is a website where you can download the music of your choice and listen to it free. There is a purchase opportunity too, of course. The BBC iplayer delivers on demand listening to radio programs from the whole of the BBC service as well as selected items from BBC TV 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. And iTunes is the Apple music store widely used to download a massive music library and save to your iPod or other portable device. So, if this is your bag, check it all out and enjoy. And if you want to let us know how you get on, we welcome your emails or phone calls.

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