Friday, January 09, 2009

Technology Frustrations

As many of you that read this blog know, I use assistive technology to access my computer. To be more specific, I use a screen reading program, designed by Freedom Scientific, called JAWS for Windows.

This program has saved my life. It's given me independence, allowed me to participate in society, and offered me the opportunity to excel along side and/or beyond my sighted peers. Long story short, if you want to punish me, take away my JAWS. I would certainly be tormented during the time it's gone.

JAWS has allowed me to maintain this blog for the last three years. Likewise, I've been able to comment on my peers blogs in the same manner as any computer user. However, technology is shifting and becoming more advanced by the hour. And as these new advancements are pushed out on the market, the possibility of me not being able to access certain technology creeps up more and more.

Let me give you a few examples...

Let's start with these visual images that many sites want you to type into the text-box in order to leave a comment on a blog or to sign up for a certain service.
I hate these!!! There just awful!

First of all, have you clicked on the so called audio alternative lately? It sounds a mess! The numbers that I'm supposed to be listening for are being spoken over a bed of weird, mumbling, jibberish, which is almost as loud as the numbers you are supposed to be listening for. So, half the time, I can never get the numbers right. So, I can't leave comments on folks' blogs, nor can I sign up for certain programs on the web.

I challenge all of my sighted readers to click on the audio alternative to the visual captions. Listen, and let me know what you think.

And for those of you that maintain blogs that have those visual captions on the comment section... This is why I don't comment much anymore. I hate taking so much time, going through so many steps to leave a message. I want to show these blogs love, but I don't want to go through drama to do it.

And yes I understand why people have them posted on the blogs. They’re there to block out computer automated SPAM. But it also blocks me out.

Blogger is guilty of this using these ridiculous sounding audio captions. Word Press is better. In fact, I don’t know a Word Press blog that has it on there. And don’t get me talking about these blog platforms that don’t have an audio alternative at all. Those blogs are completely inaccessible to a blind computer user that wants to leave a comment.

Next example...

The voting for the Weblog Awards are going on. And the fact that I'm losing in an embarrassing manner will be addressed in another post... LOL

Well, one of the frustrating things about the Weblog Awards is that the awards site uses Flash to allow people to vote. And guess what, my screen reading program can't recognize it at all. So, I can't even vote for my own blog, let alone anyone else's. I have to get sighted assistance to vote. And that's unacceptable!

After the awards are over, I'm going to send the awards administrator a note to encourage them to create a voting mechanism that is accessible to all computer users. Because at this point, it's not fair.

Now, don't get it twisted... I'm not blaming my embarrassing vote stats on the inaccessibility. I seriously doubt if there is a band of blind people trying to vote for my blog. LOL But as long as there's one person, and that one person could be me, I'm not cool with being locked out. It's out of line.

I'll just stop here. That's my rant for the morning. I don't feel like addressing the cell phone issues right now. Perhaps in another post, I'll let Sprint have it.

Peace out,



Anonymous said...

Hi Angie, not to minimise your frustration at all because the issues you raise are very real, but have you tried the Firefox browser with the Webvisum plug-in? This allows me to participate in most sites that use CAPTCHA. You simply tab to the field where you must enter the characters from the image, press a keystroke, and Webvisum decodes the image for you and copies the characters to the clipboard ready for you to paste in. Believe it or not, in most cases, it works flawlessly.

This is not to say that a better solution to CAPTCHA shouldn't be found, but for now, it is a way around the frustration.

Chi-Chi said...

"I challenge all of my sighted readers to click on the audio alternative to the visual captions. Listen, and let me know what you think."

On Facebook I was given a visual caption in order to leave a message for someone. After about 8 tries (I couldn't make out the letters and numbers), I decided to use the audio alternative. It was just ridiculous. It sounded like someone was trying to intercept some kind of message from outer space. Frustrating. I got around it by giving Facebook my cell phone number. Ugh.

You know, I never realized how difficult the world makes it for folks with disabilities until I had a stroller to push. So many facilities were off limits to me because the aisles were to narrow or the elevator was constantly broken or non-existent and no ramps. I began to see many other ways that people were being excluded. Some were so obvious as to be embarrassing. I think you'd do very well to let the Weblog awards know how they are excluding people. BTW, I am voting for you. I think I forgot yesterday but I did today!!

Army Wife said...

I am not fairing well either, but was glad to find your blog through it being nominated...

Raymie and dooce get a ton of readers....TONS. So do not feel slighted or bad. Heck Dooce just got I think another book deal...

blue girl said...

Hi Angie!

Also found your blog through the nomination page. (Also, Jon Swift, the cutie pie, linked to you today.)

Anyway, that is not right that you've been locked out of the awards voting. Not right at all.

My last two votes will go to you. I think voting's open 'til tomorrow at 5. I think.

Nice "meeting" you!


Angie-Nuvision said...

Anon: I'll certainly try that out. thanks for the tip!

Chi-Chi: I love how sensitive you're becoming. That's wonderful! It shows how considerate you are to others.
And yes, the audio alternative to CAPTCHA sounds like something from outer space. It's ridiculous!
Come back again. Your comments are like a breath of fresh air.

Army Wife: Hi there! I'm so, so glad that you stopped by. I'm even more glad that you took the time to make a comment. Thanks!
I'm not worried about losing the awards. I just didn't want to lose so bad. LOL Not even having 100 points is just plain embarrassing. But there's always next year. Maybe by then, I'll have a book deal, like some of the other diarists in our category. **crossed fingers**

Blue Girl: Welcome! Thanks for stopping by and making a comment.
And thank you so much to take a vote from yourself to vote for me. That is truly admirable. So incredibly admirable that I'm awed by it... Again, thank you. It says a lot about your character.
And John is a cutie pie? Really? LOL thanks for the heads up. I may be blind. But I always appreciate knowing when I'm in the presence of a good looking man. LOL

All of you have a fantastic week!