CAPTION: AP’s Haven Daley goes inside the Yahoo Accessibility Lab where engineers work to find ways for people with disabilities to use the world wide web. (Nov. 30)
(locator – Sunnyvale, CA)
IMAGINE TRYING TO TYPE ON A KEYBOARD WITH A BIG RUBBER BALL.
Reporter says: “I’m trying to make it pointy (laughs)”
THAT’S THE KIND OF PROBLEM VICTOR TSARAN (Sair-On) TRIES TO HELP SOLVE AT YAHOO’S ACCESSIBILITY LAB. BORN IN UKRAINE, HE LOST HIS EYESIGHT AS A CHILD.
Victor Tsaran, Accessibility Program Manager, says: “When I saw a computer for the first time, suddenly something clicked in my mind. This is such a great tool. I can do so many things. I can scan books. I can compose music. I can browse websites and so I got into the accessibility field mainly by need because that’s technology I live with on an everyday basis and that’s technology that I preach to others and that’s technology I believe in.”
THE LAB HELPS PROGRAMMERS AND DEVELOPERS UNDERSTAND HOW DISABLED PEOPLE USE COMPUTERS AND ACCESS THE INTERNET. FOR USERS WITH LIMITED HAND MOVEMENT, A SINGLE BUTTON REPLACES THE KEYBOARD.
FOR USERS PARALYZED FROM THE NECK DOWN, A HEAD MOUSE WAS DEVELOPED. THE COMPUTER CAN SENSE WHERE THE USER IS LOOKING THANKS TO A STICKER PLACED ON THE FOREHEAD. THERE ARE ALSO SIMILAR DEVICES THAT SENSE JAW MOVEMENTS OR FINGER TAPS.
Disabled video game player says: “there we go.”
VICTOR USES A BRAILLE DISPLAY AND A SCREEN READER.
Voice synthesizer says: “Hello Victor. How are you doing today?”
WHEN A USER GETS PROFICIENT, THEY CAN ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND THIS.
(quick garbled reading)
Victor says: “So you get the idea.”
Off camera voice asks: “You can understand what they’re saying?”
Victor says: “Yeah, I can.”
WITH THE POTENTIAL OF REACHING MORE THAN 600 MILLION DISABLED USERS WORLDWIDE, THE LAB’S EFFORTS MAKE GOOD BUSINESS SENSE.
Alan Brightman, Accessibility Police Director, says: “I’ve worked with disabled people a long time and I have noting against charity and nothing against philanthropy but I have yet to meet a person with a disability who wants to be considered an object of charity. They want to be considered, in general, as part of the mainstream which means they’re customers and they want to be seen as no less demanding or discerning as anybody else.”
STILL THERE’S NO DOUBT THE LAB’S WORK IS CHANGING LIVES.
Victor Tsaran, Accessibility Program Manager, says: “Salary increases are great but nothing warms your heart better than hearing from users saying I love your new feature or I love using your particular site.”
YAHOO’S ACCESSIBILITY LAB HAS BEEN UP AND RUNNING FOR ABOUT TWO YEARS NOW. THOSE WORKING HERE SAY THEY HOPE IN ANOTHER TEN YEARS, ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES WILL BE SOLVED AND THE LAB WILL NO LONGER BE NEEDED. HAVEN DALEY, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA.
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