Wednesday, June 28

Another Article on the Kurzweil-NFB Reader

Greetings. The following article appeared in the Austin American Statesman, from the Associated Press. Enjoy.

Hand-held device helps blind people read

New reader has advantage of portability for restaurants, planes.

By Jamie Stengle
Monday, June 26, 2006

DALLAS — A whole new world opened up for Tommy Craig in the past few months as he tested a new hand-held device for the blind that converts print to audio.

With its help, Craig was able to "read" everything from menus to cooking directions by positioning the reader over print and taking a picture. In seconds,
the printed message is heard.

"The reader provides access to materials that a lot of times you just didn't read," said Craig, 51, of Austin, who was one of about 500 people with blindness
who tested the device. "It certainly makes you more independent."

Today, the rest of the world will know about the device when it's unveiled by the National Federation of the Blind.

"It's not quite like having a pair of eyes that work, but it's headed in that direction," said James Gashel, executive director for strategic initiatives
at the Maryland-based federation.

Developed by the membership organization of more than 50,000 people with blindness and inventor Ray Kurzweil, the device combines a personal data assistant
and a digital camera.

"This is really the hottest new technology to be developed for blind people in the last 30 years," said Gashel, who calls it "the camera that talks."

About three decades ago, Kurzweil came up with the first invention that converted text into audio. That gave way to software that could be paired with a
computer and scanner and perform the same function. But the latest device has a big advantage: portability.

The federation expects the reader, which costs about $3,500, to be a big hit at the organization's annual meeting, which will begin Saturday in Dallas.

It will be sold though through Kurzweil Education Systems Inc. and will be available via the Internet and in stores.

For now, those who have tested the reader have been able to read items they never have before, such as the magazines in the pockets of airplane seats.

Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, points out another advantage: "Sometimes you get something that you want to read that you
don't want anyone else to read."

Tuesday, June 27

Amusing Poem

Greetings. Here's an amusing and thoughtful poem about the wonders of spell checking. Enjoy.


Eye halve a spelling chequer,
It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marques four my revue,
Miss steaks eye kin not sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word,
And weight four it two say,
Weather eye am wrong or write,
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid,
It nose bee fore two long.
And I can put the error rite,
Its rare lea ever wrong.

I have run this poem threw it,
I am shore your pleased to no.
It's letter perfect awl the weigh,
My chequer tolled me sew.

KeySoft 7.2 Thoughts

Greetings. The following information came into my Inbox today and I thought I'd pass it along, with my thoughts on the content. Here's what HumanWare has to offer in the upcoming KeySoft 7.2 release:


HumanWare will be releasing KeySoft 7.2 early in the
4th quarter of 2006, making your BrailleNote or VoiceNote even more useful
and efficient.
Whether you have a BrailleNote or VoiceNote mPower, a BrailleNote PK, or a
BrailleNote or VoiceNote Classic, there is a version of KeySoft 7.2 that
will be available for you.  KeySoft 7.2 takes one count from your Software
Maintenance Agreement (SMA).  An SMA allows you to receive two major
versions of KeySoft for the price of one.  Remember, an SMA can only be used
for a version of KeySoft if it is purchased prior to the release of the
software concerned.  So if you are not yet an SMA holder, ensure you get the
best deal on KeySoft 7.2 by purchasing your SMA now.  Contact HumanWare or
your local dealer for KeySoft 7.2 pricing.   What's in KeySoft 7.2?
Working with Files Is Easier (available on all models)

KeySoft allows extensive manipulation of files from any file list.  Anywhere
you can see a list of files, you can copy, erase, move, protect, unprotect
and rename a file.  Now, it is possible to mark files for action.  Move
through a list of files, mark those files that you need to take action on,
and the file manipulation commands can be applied to the group of files.
Now, when you look through a file list using the Directory option in File
Manager, pressing ENTER on any file will launch its associated application.
Pressing ENTER on an mp3 file for example will immediately cause it to start
playing in the Media Player.  In any file list, it is now easier to get it
sorted.  You can still sort files alphabetically as you have always done,
however you can now also sort by date and by size.  Sorting by size is a
great way of finding those pesky large files that are consuming FLASH Disk
space.  Sorting by date makes it easier to trace the progress of a project
whose files are contained in their own folder.  e-mail Signatures (available
on all models)  KeySoft 7.2 adds the ability to set up two e-mail
signatures.  Configure an e-mail signature for messages you generate, and
another for messages you forward or reply to.  You can see the text of the
signature right in the body of any e-mail message you create.  Statistics
Support in the Calculator (available on all models)  KeySoft 7.2 offers
intuitive, powerful statistical functions in KeyPlus.  Create data sets
within the Calculator using a special data entry mode.  Enter your data into
a KeyWord document, and paste it into data entry mode from the clipboard.
Import data sets from many common applications.  Save data sets for later
use, and export them for use by other applications.  Perform a wide range of
statistical functions on a data set using an intuitive KeySoft menu, or with
hotkeys.  DAISY Support (available on BrailleNote and VoiceNote mPower, and
BrailleNote PK)  Your BrailleNote or VoiceNote is about to become your
digital book player.  HumanWare is the world leader in DAISY playback
technology, through our Victor Reader products.  Now, we have incorporated
Victor Reader technology right into KeySoft.  Listen to DAISY audio books,
with the flexibility to speed up and slow down the narration and change the
tone of the audio.  Set bookmarks, create text notes, and jump to any time
in the book.  Text only DAISY books are instantly translated into your
preferred grade of Braille.  With books that offer both text and audio, you
have the best of both worlds.  Choose to read in Braille for detailed study,
and let the narrator read to you when it suits.  Move through DAISY
elements, or use the familiar KeySoft sentence and paragraph navigation
commands in text DAISY books if you prefer.  Get ready!

Make sure you have a current Software Maintenance Agreement so you can
download your copy of KeySoft 7.2 when it is released.  KeySoft 7.2 from
HumanWare will change the way you work, learn and play.

Now, as promised, my thoughts. First off, after reading over this the first time, I immediately had the thought of, "Well, it looks like they're still playing catch up to the PAC Mate." The PAC Mate has the ability to do all of these things, and more. I'm sure this will be a step up for BrailleNote people though, mainly because they haven't had the ability.

Second, as for the manipulation of files, it's about time they got around to doing that in KeySoft. I was a BrailleNote user for about a year and a half to two years several years ago, so I feel I can comment on this. Even as far back as 2002 or 2003, people were requesting some way of associating files, or having them open in their respective applications. As well as the ability to rename and otherwise manipulate files. That's quite a gap from 2002 to mid 2006.

Finally, from the numbering of the update, you would think it was a minor update. If this is true though, then why are you charged an SMA count for getting the update? And, is it even called an update or an upgrade?

However, this last area can be considered to be peddy speculation. The fact remains that only a few months ago, they were distributing and promoting KeySoft 7. Now they're promoting version 7.2. Its good to see the development cycle and promotion of new versions decreasing from before. After all, it took them a full year to promote, and finally release, version 7.0.

Bottom line though, as a biased PAC Mate user, KeySoft still hasn't done anything that makes me go, "Wow!" Oh well; perhaps in the next update or upgrade.

Wednesday, June 21

JAWS 7.1 is Out

Greetings. Just in time for the summer conventions, JAWS 7.1 is out. It is a free update for those with version 7. Read more about this release and download your copy from the JAWS 7.1 page at Freedom Scientific.

After promoting this update for several months and going through 5 different beta cycles, this should be a good release. The next task will be to get JAWS working with Vista. FS will have additional time on that front though since the new Microsoft operating system is not set to be released, in consumer form, until early next year. For now, enjoy the current update of JAWS with lots of bug fixes and enhancements.

Descriptions of NFB Convention Areas

Greetings. Here's a description of the exhibit hall and grand ballroom for the upcoming NFB convention. I've placed 3 stars between the sections for better navigation. Enjoy.

2006 NFB Annual Convention, Exhibit Hall "Verbal Map"

OVERVIEW: The Khmer Pavilion Exhibit Hall is a perfect rectangle, which will make finding one's way around the 146 tables an easy shot for the power shopper.
There are tables around the 4 walls, with the east and west sides being the long sides. There are 3 rectangles of tables covering the middle space. These
are called A-Square, B-Square, and C-Square. A and B and C Squares have their short ends facing the east and west walls, their long ends parallel with
the north and south walls, and A-Square is nearest to the entrance.

ENTRANCE: When you enter the ballroom through the east wall you will be at the southeast corner of the room in a vestibule. Coming out of the hotel hallway,
you will enter the vestibule, turn right, and in a few steps enter the Khmer Pavilion. (By the way, there is a water station set up just inside the vestibule
to your left as you enter.)

Upon entering the Pavilion, Information Tables 1 and 2 are on your right. Pick up your room map (print only) and exhibitor lists with table numbers (in
Braille or print) here, or ask directions to a specific vendor's location. Left of the doorway you will find the Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind
Reader tables (62-64), but let's continue straight north, (keeping the entrance behind us, the east wall on our right) to check out East Wall tables 1
through 20. Some of the notable vendors along the wall are NFB-NEWSLINE® (6, 7), Independent Living Aids (9, 10), and Guide Dogs for the Blind (12).

Turn left or west after table 20, passing a water station, and peruse North Wall tables 21 to 34. Need cash? Diebold's accessible talking ATM machine (with
real money in response to your credit card) and the Diebold (sample) accessible voting machine are at space 21 (straight ahead of the entrance).

The West Wall tables 35 to 52 are next. If shopping makes you thirsty, the NFB Merchant's Division is midway at tables 41-44 with their snack packs and
free sodas. The interesting exhibits from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center are at tables 49 to 51, followed by the Jernigan Institute National Center
for Blind Youth in Science at 52.

Turn left again to check out the South Wall tables 53 to 64. Optelec at tables 56 to 61 has the most tables in this stretch. And now you are back to the
Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader tables, beyond which is the vestibule.

To get to A-Square after examining the new handheld reader, put your back to the south wall and cross the aisle. You have arrived at HumanWare (A65-A71,
and A90-A92) on the A-Square's east end. Go left to find Sendero Group at A87-88, about midway on the square's south side, or to the end of the side to
find "ifbyphone" at A82-83. On the other hand, if you wish to find table numbers in ascending order, travel counterclockwise around each square.

B-Square is in the center of the room, with Freedom Scientific taking up its entire east end at tables B93-B99 plus B118-B120. National Industries for
the Blind (NIB) is at B116 midway on the B-Square's south side.

C-Square is furthest north in the room, with tables C121 through C146. As with the other squares, only 2 or 3 tables are on each end, and 11 tables are
on each of the long sides.


a verbal map for the 2006 convention

These four functions will be in the Grand Ballroom: book-signing area (limited hours); free NFB literature; NFB aids and literature for sale; and the Accessible
Home Showcase, an exhibit and lecture area (limited hours). Be sure to check your agenda for the functions with limited hours.

You will enter the Grand Ballroom from its north wall. Inside the door to your left on the east wall are the four tables for NFB authors doing book-signings.
Straight ahead of you is a large rectangle of 16 tables full of free literature. To your right is a larger square of 27 tables for the NFB Store. The
Accessible Home Showcase is located all the way to the right back corner of the Grand Ballroom. You will find the large free-standing appliances next
to a dozen chairs set-up for the demonstrations listed in the agenda. From the Ballroom entrance, you may turn right and follow the 3 inside walls until
you arrive, or you may want to travel between the free NFB Literature tables and the NFB Store tables all the way to the back of the room, then turn right
and continue walking until you arrive.

The NFB Store offers you your best chance all year to examine many aids and appliances before you buy. Ask for a free lesson if you would like to take
a long white cane for a test drive before buying, or ask the folks demonstrating Braille products for a beginner's Braille lesson, or how to use the templates
for letter-writing. Examine the NFB literature which is sold (not given away). Our fellow members serving as volunteer demonstrators are there to show
you how each product works. Each product (except canes) has an attached Braille-print label and stapled to it, small print tickets with ID numbers. As
always, you need to hand the shopkeepers one print ticket from each product you wish to buy so that they will know exactly which product it is. A large
paper clip attached to the Braille-print label signifies that this item can be examined at convention but must be shipped to you from Baltimore after convention.

The side of the NFB Store area closest to you (its east side) begins with NFB canes. Follow the tables to your left (clockwise) and on the beginning of
the fourth side (its north side), you will find two parallel tables sticking out into the aisle to help organize two lines for the shopkeepers. They are
ready to take your tickets for products and your money to pay for them. Beyond the shopkeeper's counter, please note that there are five more tables of
products for sale so you may want to check them out before getting in line. After those five tables is the corner that puts you back at the cane tables.
When you are ready to exit the Grand Ballroom after your purchases at the sales counter, put your back to the shopkeepers, walk straight ahead to the
north wall, and follow it to your right (eastward) until you find the entrance on your left.

This completes your tour of the Grand Ballroom.

Saturday, June 17

Books, Books and More Books

(Please excuse any weird formatting; enjoy.)

Free chapter added to saga of e-books that canobe
By David Mehegan, Globe Staff I June 2, 2006

For much of the past decade, the publishing world
has been trying to
figure out how to make money selling books in
electronic form. Now a
private project wants to give e-books away for free.

Project Gutenberg, a 35-year-old nonprofit based in
Urbana, Ill.,
announced yesterday it is putting as many as 300,000
books online, where
they will be available for free download. Called the
World eBook Fair,
the program will last a month - July 4 to Aug. 4 --
and will be repeated annually.

The catalog of available works will include fiction,
nonfiction, and
reference books, mostly those that are no longer
protected by copyright.
"It will include the oldest books in the world,
including every author
you have heard of in your life, other than current
ones," said Michael
Hart, Project Gutenberg's founder. The fair also
will offer classical
music files, both scores and recordings, as well as

About 95 percent of the books are in the public
domain and not subject
to copyright law, Hart said. The copyright holders
of the remaining 5
percent have given permission for use of their
works. Copyright law
generally protects a work for 70 years beyond the
death of its creator.

Roughly 20,000 of the books have been scanned by
thousands of Gutenberg
volunteers -- and are already available at -- but the
majority will be loaned to Gutenberg for the month
by more than 100
e-book libraries, including the World eBook Library,
which normally
charges a fee for temporary access. As many as
100,000 of the 300,000
books will remain available permanently. Gutenberg
plans to offer
500,000 books in next year's fair, 750,000 in 2008,
and 1 million in
2009. Still, even these numbers are a fraction of
the tens of millions
of books that have been published throughout

"Our stuff is all free," Hart said. "We want people
to take these books
and use them, to keep them in their PDAs. Our
mission is to help break
down the walls of ignorance and illiteracy."

Efforts to establish a commercial e-book marketplace
have stumbled.
Attempts to sell hand-held readers failed because
they were clumsy and
delicate, downloadable books were few, and fees were
high. Google
recently announced a plan to make millions of books
searchable online,
but the company has faced opposition from publishers
outraged over
potential copyright infringement. Attempts to reach
publishers and
booksellers last night were unsuccessful.

In the World eBook Fair, the books can be downloaded
and read on almost
any kind of computer - even a cellphone or PDA . The
idea is not merely
to lend or rent access to the book but to give it
away so that it can be
kept in a library, copied, or shared with friends.

Hart said the major flaw with previous attempts to
sell e-books was the
device. "Those readers were dinosaurs before they
were bom," he said.
"This generation grew up on Game Boy. The screen of
a cellphone is fine
for them. The iPod had been out only a week when
someone wrote a program
so you could read our books on it."

Hart, 58, has been the dedicated visionary behind
the project since its
inception in 1971, working out of his basement in
Urbana since
graduating from the University of Illinois. In a
phone interview, he
spoke in evangelistic tones about the social virtue
of the project. "We
want to increase literacy and education from the
bottom up," he said. "I
think of this as a blue-collar project. Our target
is not the erudite
professor of Shakespeare -- it's everybody, as many
people as we can
encourage to read."

Gutenberg volunteers -- who have been typing and
scanning books into
computers for 35 years, well before anyone had heard
of the Internet --
have the passion of Wikipedians. "I have 40,000
people to help," Hart
said. "There are no universities or corporations
involved, just a lot of
people in attics banging on their computers. We have
one workaholic
insomniac who has scanned 2,500 to 3,000 books by
himself. He buys

1 of 2 6/2/2006 6:26 AM
Free chapter added to saga of e-books - The Boston


Mem, scans them, and proofreads them."

Though Hart is the project's conceptual force, the
unpaid CEO of Project
Gutenberg is Gregory Newby, acting chief scientist
of the Arctic Area
Supercomputing Center at the University of Alaska in
Fairbanks. While
more low-key than Hart on the phone, he was no less
fired with

"As we see it, if e-books are to succeed, readers
have to be allowed to
do everything they can do with a real book," Newby
said. "If you use
Google Book Search, you can search text, but after a
few pages you can't
read any more. If you try to use it like a book, you
encounter a lot of

Newby said he sees free e-books as the way of the
future for classic

"It breaks my heart to go into Barnes & Noble and
find Jane Austen for
sale in a trade format," he said. "Where does that
money go? It's close
to profiteering. No author is getting any money for
it. I feel sorry for
schools, where kids are now reading Canterbury Tales
or Huckleberry
Finn, and the schools are spending millions of
dollars from their
budgets to buy the books. We're giving the stuff
away for free."

A&E Networks Presents ... Superblind!

Greetings. Here's an announcement about a broadcast of the movie on Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountain climber who summetted Mt. Everest in May of 2001. Among other things, there's information below on how you can download a described version of the movie from the A&E website. Enjoy.

A&E Network's Touch the Top of the World to be Accessible to Viewers who are
Blind or Visually Impaired

Film Based on Erik Weihenmayer, First Blind Climber to Summit Mt. Everest

Boston, MA A&E Network and the Media Access Group at WGBH announce
availability of a descriptive narration track on the A&E Web site for TOUCH
THE TOP OF THE WORLD, which premiers on A&E Network on SUNDAY, JUNE
18, 2006 at 8-10PM ET and PT / 9-11PM CT.

Audio description of the visual elements of TOUCH THE TOP OF THE WORLD will
be available via A&E Network's Web site,

At the site, visitors can access an audio stream that includes
moment-by-moment descriptions of the action in the movie, including
gestures, costumes, settings, who is speaking and text that appears on
screen. The described track will be available for three months from the date
of the film's debut on A&E, June 18, 2006.

A behind the scenes look at how description was created for this film will
be posted and available next week at
(sign in necessary)

Touch the Top of the World - The Film Peter Facinelli (Six Feet Under,
Fastlane, The Scorpion King) portrays Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man
ever to climb Mount Everest in the suspenseful, action-packed adventure
film. Bruce Campbell (The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Homicide,
X-Files) co-stars as Erik's father.

In 2001, Erik Weihenmayer began his ascent up the tallest mountain in the
world, Mt. Everest. This was a journey that began very early in life when
he was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that ultimately led to total
blindness by the time Erik was 13. With the support of an amazing family,
Erik never allowed his handicap to hold him back. In the wake of the sudden
death of his mother, Erik and his family began taking treks into remote
mountain areas to keep their lives intact. Soon Erik was taking on greater
challenges, including rock climbing, while finishing college and starting
his teaching career. While teaching, Erik met and fell in love with a
colleague, Ellie. They married and moved to Denver. After conquering
numerous major peaks, Erik decided to confront his biggest challenge yet --
Mount Everest, the world's highest peak. Along the journey, Erik and his
team faced unbearably treacherous conditions and witnessed the frozen
remains of those who had failed in similar attempts years earlier. Finally,
Erik and his colleagues made it to the top of Mount Everest, quite literally
the top of the world.

Video Description Video descriptions make television programs, feature
films, home videos, and other visual media accessible to people who are
blind or visually impaired by providing descriptive narration of key visual
elements in programs that a viewer might otherwise miss. When described,
these elements- including actions, costumes, gestures and scene changes -can
fully engage a blind or visually impaired viewer with the story. A carefully
written script is prepared by a trained describer, read by a professional
narrator, and mixed in a professional audio production suite for
broadcast-quality results. A full Descriptive Video Service/DVS® mix
consists of the main program audio combined with these narrated

WGBH, Boston's public broadcaster and a pioneer in the field of assistive
and accessible technology developed description for television, home videos
and feature films. A&E and The Media Access Group have worked together for
years to make a variety of A&E programs accessible via closed captioning to
viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Touch the Top of the World
presented the first opportunity to work together to make an A&E film
accessible via video descriptions to blind and visually impaired A&E

Film Credits TOUCH THE TOP OF THE WORLD is based on Erik Weihenmayer's
memoir of the same name. The screenplay is by Peter Silverman, multiple
Emmy-nominee who credits include Something The Lord Made, We Were The
Mulvaneys, and Hill Street Blues. The executive producers are Howard
Braunstein, Michael Jaffe and Mark Sennet. The director is Peter Winther,
who directed The Librarian, the top-rated cable movie of 2004 and worked on
a number of major Hollywood blockbusters, from Independence Day to Godzilla
to The Patriot. The film will be distributed by Sony Pictures Television.

About A&E Network Now reaching more than 90 million homes, A&E Network
brings viewers a diverse mix of high quality entertainment; ranging from
critically acclaimed original movies to the very best dramatic series, the
most successful justice shows on cable to the Emmy Award-winning BIOGRAPHY®
series. Not to mention, the A&E Network's powerhouse Real-Life Series
franchise. In 2005, A&E Network holds the distinct record for the most
Primetime Emmy nominations (10) for a basic cable network. The A&E Network
web site is located at
and the Biography® website is located at
The A&E Club is located at
For more information and photography please visit us on the web at

About the Media Access Group at WGBH: The Media Access Group is a nonprofit
service of Boston public broadcaster WGBH, with offices in Boston and Los
Angeles. The Group includes DVS, which has made television, film and video
more enjoyable to audiences who are blind or visually impaired since 1990,
and The Caption Center--the world's first captioning agency--which has made
audiovisual media accessible to audiences who are deaf or hard of hearing
since 1972. The third branch of the Media Access Group, the WGBH National
Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), is a research, development and advocacy
entity that work to make existing and emerging technologies accessible to
all audiences. Members of the Group's collective staff represent the leading
resources and experts in their fields. For more information, visit

Thursday, June 15

Interesting Amazon Department

Greetings. I was reading through my daily round of blogs last night and saw that Amazon has opened a new Store for the blind and visually impaired. While I'm a big supporter of Amazon and have shopped there for the past 5 or so years, I was a bit puzzled by this announcement. What could have caused them to open this department? Who knows. I was really puzzled when I browsed through the short list of products to be offered. Granted, these are by no means the only things offered. They included: the Braille and tactile book on astronomy called "Touch the Sun"; quite a few products for the low vision population, such as magnifyers, large print books, and more; and one that jumped out at me and made me groan: under the software section, there was a listing for the Dragon Naturally Speaking program. For those that don't know, Dragon is a speech recognition program. The reason I groaned when I read this, is the following.

For the past few years, whenever someone in the general public hears that I use computers, one of the first questions more often than not is if I use, or a statement that I should use, a speech recognition program. I think the thinking here is that I wouldn't have to worry about typing in information and just sit back and "talk" to my computer. I then calmly explain to them that the problem for blind people is not putting information into the computer, but getting it out. This usually satisfies most people, however I did have one woman who persisted and said that I really could benefit from it. After several tries of convincing me, I finally held my hands up and said, "Well, I don't use that software because I have no problems using my hands," and I wiggled my fingers viggorously. This seemed to satisfy her, that is after her husband repeated what I said to her in a quiet tone. I kid you not. Ug!

Anyway, getting back to the topic at hand, its my speculation that someone at Amazon, who I'm guessing had no idea how a blind person really does use a computer, figured that this would be a great thing to offer. After all, those blind people wouldn't have to worry about typing. I hesitate to ask that, if typing is such a high priority here, how are we going to go online and buy things from their site on the Web, or had they thought of that? I have no doubt that some blind people, and those with other disabilities, might get a great deal of use out of Dragon, but at first glance, it doesn't strike me as the necessary software that we can use for computer access. To be fair though, in recent years, some people have brought Dragon and JAWS together so that is possible to use a dictation software package and still have a screen reader. I haven't used this package though, so I couldn't offer any opinions on it.

On a larger scale, as I browsed through some of the more higher priced products from Amazon, I saw a couple of Braille displays from Freedom Scientific. Though there was no listing of JAWS. Hmm. Anyway, it appears that Amazon is getting some of these more tech related items from some of the low vision and daily living aids distributors, such as Maxi Aids and others I didn't recognize.

The other big question that came to my mind when I read of this new department is, why? Why do we need another specialized store, much less from Amazon? I'm all for integration, but if I need a Braille watch (which they may or may not offer, I'm just using it as an example), I'm going to buy from a place like Independent Living Aids first before I go looking at Amazon. I suppose they're trying to reach out to include everyone, even the blind and low vision populations. Interesting point though: they're new store is just as cluttered with the typical Amazon stuff as their other pages. In other words, on first glance, they didn't reduce the amount of unlabeled graphics and links that take up quite a bit of space on their regular pages. If I were to be critical, I'd ask why they didn't put this specialized store on the accessibility site, or at least clean it up a little, for the populations they're attempting to serve? But I won't be critical.

This won't stop me buying from their other stores though. It will be interesting to see what other kinds of products they offer though, and if they increase the number of blindness products they have. I realize that the low vision population is a large part of this market, but its not the whole market.

Time will tell I suppose.

C.A.R.S. Activities in Dallas

The below email announcement comes from a new division in the National Federation of the Blind. These activities will take place during the upcoming NFB convention in Dallas in a couple of weeks. Enjoy.


As some of you may know, and for those who don't, The NFB has a new
division for those who have an interest in motor vehicles. The C.A.R.S
Division of the NFB, which stands for,Classic,Antique, Rods, and Special
interest, was formed last year in Louisville at national convention for
those who are interested in vehicles. We would like to invite you to come
and check out our activities, and join us in our love of all things

Below you will see what we have planned. We've put a lot of work into this
and hope you'll come and enjoy what we've done. Even if you only have a
passing interest in vehicles, I hope you'll find something of interest
here, and help support the NFB's new division. So without further
ramblings, Here's what we have planned so far.

We will be selling 10 different models. 5 different cars that are about 6
inches long (1/32 scale). There will be a 51 ford crestline, 48 Lincoln
continental, 31 ford model A roadster, 25 model T, and a 49 ford woody
station wagon.
These will sell for around $12. and there will be 25 of each model. They
are very detailed for the price with opening doors hoods and in some cases
We will also be selling 5 different models that are about 12 inches long.
(1/18 scale) These will be, a 1917 REO touring car, a 38 Cadillac sedan, a
38 Buck century convertible, a 50 GMC pickup, and I can't remember what
the last one was. The larger cars will sell for between $35, and $50. There
will be 25 each of these too. All of these are really nice models. I have
several of them in my collection. These are super detailed with engine
wiring, spare tires in the trunks when needed, opening doors hoods and I
think in a couple of places, even opening glove boxes, and such.
In fact I'm the one who supplied the contact info for getting them, so you
know they're quality units.
On sunday we'll be having a Harley Davidson club come and display their
motorcycles for all to see, and give a presentation at our meeting sunday
night. This isn't a biker gang, they're older owners of Harleys. hehe
On Wednesday afternoon we'll be having an antique car show with over 40
cars from various antique car clubs, including a Cadillac club, the antique
car club of America, the veteran car club of America and 2 model A clubs.
we'll have gloves for people to wear so they can touch the cars and really
get a chance to look them over. some of these folks will give a talk to us
at our meeting on Tuesday night, along with a rep from Ford motor company.
We'll also have newspaper and TV coverage of the car show. We're also going
to make a video of the events which will go into the NFB records. Blind and
a car lover? well, we're here to tell ya. hehe Even Mrs Jernigan is excited
about all the things we're doing. Not bad for a brand new division eh?
We're very enthusiastic about this. I hope you'll come and join us gear
heads and take a trip down Memory Road.
Well, these are the details as far as I know them. If I hear any more, I'll
pass it along. Hope to see you in Dallas.
Rick W Canode
2nd vice president
C A R S Division
National Federation of the Blind

Sunday, June 11

My Mavs Theory

Greetings. As we get ever closer to game 2 in the NBA Finals, I'd like to offer up my theory on why the Mavericks will win it all.

Granted, Dirk, Stack, Harris, Avery and the rest are the best around at what they do; granted, the Mavs have depth; granted they have proven that they can match up against any sort of setup any team has (go back and consider the teams leading up to the Finals); we've got all that as sound sports reasoning as to why the Mavericks will win the Finals. However, my reasoning is a lot simpler than all that. They'll win because I'm not living there anymore.

In 1999, when the Stars won the Stanley Cup, I was in Colorado getting training at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Now, I'm in Austin at a new job, and I think they'll win. As for the Cowboys, when they won their 3 Superbowls, well, I was growing up in Dallas at the time, so that doesn't count. Besides, I was still in high school. I'm counting the time after high school graduation, :)

And anyway, even though my personal theory might seem flemsy, which it very well might be, consider the sports reasoning mentioned above, and that balances it out. Hey, I had to offer up my own spin on this. After all, one of the Dallas teams is that close to winning another championship! And it couldn't have come to a better or more deserving team. I can't think of a better cap to a 60 and 22 season, much less to a team that's never won it before. I just wish I were still in Dallas to witness the chaos and all the stuff that surrounds an NBA Finals series. Then again, I might jinks them if I were.

One more thing: if the Mavs do win it all and bring another championship to Dallas, hopefully that will help reduce the Dallas sports bias that has hung around the past number of years. It seems like whenever a Dallas team is good or in a playoff run, there is some sort of bias among the media where the particular team is not mentioned as much as the competitive team. Or, that they are looked down upon, for whatever reason. Perhaps its because JFK was shot here, but that was more than 40 years ago. I don't know where the bias comes from, but I hope that it goes away soon. Dallas really has some great tallent which deserves attention. If you need further proof of a bias against Dallas, consider the number of Cowboys that have gotten into the NFL's Hall of Fame during the Superbowl, verses those that have been up for consideration.

Anyway, go Mavs!

Saturday, June 10

Austin Cab Company and the Blind

The Austin Chronicle
Friday, June 09, 2006
Blind Leading the Sighted: Yellow Cab of Austin has become an employment option for people who are visually impaired

King the dog may be the eyes, but not the ears for his owner, Denime Sadler, a Yellow Cab call center worker who can answer phones and communicate with
cabbies as well as any sighted person. photo by Jana Birchum
Ever wonder what it's really like at a taxicab company? If you're old enough to remember the TV series Taxi, you can probably imagine Louie De Palma in
his cage, barking out orders to Reiger, Nardo, and the others.
If you never watched Taxi, it's just as well because that kind of cab company is history. Over at Yellow Cab of Austin, they use computers with mapping
and geo-positioning software to track customers and drivers. The garage is immaculate, with seven bays, and they have their own body repair shop. The only
one barking - well, he barks once in a while - is King, the seeing eye dog. No surprise, since five of the current 25 or so call-center staff members are
visually impaired.
Louie would be positively livid. But not Tomas Smith, who, as communications manager at Yellow Cab, manages the call center and computer equipment. "One
of our guiding principles is that we be an active participant in the community," says Smith, who has been in the cab business since 1978 (the year Taxi
premiered on TV).
A little over a year ago, Smith received an unannounced visit from Denime Sadler, who has been completely blind since age 7. "I had no idea he was coming.
I didn't have any want ads in the paper. But he decided that I needed to hire a blind man to answer telephones," Smith said. He convinced me he could get
help from the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. ... My intuition was he could handle the stress and excel. So I hired him."
Sadler, who prefers to say he is a person who doesn't have "physical sight," moved to Austin in 2004 from Mississippi where he had been attending college.
"I had a friend here already, but it was a rocky start. My first service animal and I were in an accident with a tow truck. Although we both survived,
the dog had to retire. But from tragedy came triumph: I got help from the state and a job here." Sadler says he got the idea for working at the cab company
because Capitol Metro contracts with Yellow Cab to provide transportation for people with disabilities. "I kept asking the cab drivers if there were any
openings here, and one day they suggested I check it out myself."
Sadler said he recently helped form a coalition to help increase public awareness about issues for people without physical sight. "The blind need to be
taught they can be independent and businesses need to be shown we can work just as well - if not better - than 'normal people.' Our unemployment rate is
70 to 80%, which is a disaster."
How hard is it to integrate people with disabilities into the workforce? Employers may complain about all the difficulties associated with the Americans
with Disabilities Act, but a recent study by Cornell University says one of the obstacles to hiring people with disabilities is the negative attitude of
supervisors and co-workers. Smith says he's spoken with people in state government, as well as with area-employment specialists about what Yellow Cab has
done. "The toughest thing is to come to the realization that there really isn't a difference between a sighted and unsighted person. We all have our shortcomings,
abilities, and disabilities. Once you can shed the prejudice, you'll find a body of very willing, able, and motivated workers."
Smith said Yellow Cab had to make sure door handles had levers. The company also had to mark the bathroom doors with braille, make sure nothing was protruding
into hallways, and install screen-reading software called Job Access With Speech (JAWS) on call-center computers. "Fortunately, we were already moving
into a new building that was ADA compliant," Smith said.
Chad Nezat, who has been visually impaired since birth, came to Yellow Cab in July 2005 after being laid off from his previous job. "Computer people at
some companies don't like messing with JAWS or claim it has security issues. Then there are times when JAWS doesn't always work - that's been my experience
with other customer-service jobs."
Unlike many of his sighted co-workers, Nezat has been touch-typing since the fourth grade and was ready to work with Yellow Cab's computer system. "Most
blind people
learn how to type from an early age because we have to communicate in written form," he said. Everyone may not realize it, but all computer keyboards are
"braille," Smith added. "If you look at the 'F' and 'J' keys, there are little raised areas - that's basically all they need to get oriented."
Hugo Sanchez, who has only worked at Yellow Cab for a short time, also brings a skill some of his sighted co-workers don't have: He is bilingual. "Speaking
Spanish is not only a good asset for me, I also think it will help generate revenue for the company, because we can provide something for a segment of
the population that might not get served otherwise." Sanchez, who at age 44 is the most senior of the visually-impaired staff members, says there are more
opportunities for younger people with visual impairment today than there used to be. When he is not working, he is a proud father of four (his oldest is
in the Marines), a ham-radio operator, and plays on the Austin Blackhawks, a world championship-winning baseball team for people with visual impairments.
(For more information, visit the
National Beep Baseball Association).
Although other businesses have been blind to Yellow Cab's success thus far, Smith is happy to report that the Yellow Cab franchises in San Antonio and Houston
are also working toward hiring people who are visually impaired.
"When we went into this, it was a learning curve. None of us had ever done it, but I got help from Ed Browning at DARS. Our San Antonio branch is currently
moving forward with implementing the hiring of blind call-takers, and Houston is not far behind. And there's been an added bonus. We had to make a pretty
big technical jump from old, dumb monochrome terminals to modern PCs so we could install the JAWS software. We liked the PCs so much better that we moved
all of our software to them. Now, all of our call-takers have access to the new map software. This has helped the entire company."
--Despite negative recommendations by both City Staff and Urban Transportation Commission, Austin City Council has approved the Roy's Yellow merger. Some
"African" companies may apply for the newly created franchise and Austin Cab will receive twenty new permits. We may have a few jobs, but we will have
fewer options with respect to transportation until the new franchise comes to fruition.

A New and Bizarre Net station

Greetings. Below is information on a new and interesting Internet broadcasting station. Remember earlier I was talking about mental photo albums? Well, this station takes that to a new level, combining sound effects and creating chaotic results. When I listen to it, I can imagine a dog attacking a car, then the car's alarm goes off, and the dog starts whining. You too can get these same images, and many others like it, by tuning in below. The addresses given are not links, since you will need to paste them into your media player's open location dialog. Write privately or through the public comments feature if you would like instructions on how to do this. Enjoy.

What is FX Radio? Well, it's a concept that Derek Lane and I came up
with last summer when we were both rather bored.
Basically, it's the result of what happens when you load three
instances of winamp equipped with crossfaders, then load a whole ton
of high quality sound effects libraries into each winamp, making
sure, of course, that everything is randomized.
The sequence of events that can happen as a result of this are
rather strange, and many interesting things can happen to your mind
as a result of listening to the random combinations of odd things that occur.

Have you ever seen a bird driving a car under water, all the while
being shot at by a telephone? Or, perhaps, little kids playing in
underwater construction sites? How about frogs that make things
explode, sheep making things blow up, or machine guns blasting
through a calm cafe, all the while everyone seems to be oblivious to
the fact that they are being shot at, and, in fact, don't seem to
mind very much?
All these things can and have been known to happen on FX Radio, all
sound effects, all the time, 24 hours a day!

To tune in, you will need a streaming media player compatible with
AAC+ streaming, such as Winamp (5.1 or higher, except 5.22 which has
a bug that breaks AAC streams), VLC Mediaplayer, or Foobar 2000.

If you have a compatible player, go to one of the following addresses:


Note: If you are using the Thompson mp3 pro decoder for Winamp, the
shoutcast stream will not work unless it is disabled. The icecast
feed will, however, since the .aac extention will not be passed off
to the mp3 pro decoder.

The bandwidth is low enough such that you can listen with either a
dial-up or broadband connection. Either way, you'll still get the
same great quality that AAC+ streaming provides.

Also, as the shoutcast server is on port 80, this means you can
listen to FX Radio behind any proxy server that only allows access
to http, such as universities and other institutions. Yes, a nice
distraction during class might be good, don't you think?
Why not freak out your friends, classmates or co-workers while
you're at it? Maybe all of the above?

Close your eyes, put on some headphones, tune in, and get ready for
a very strange, and altogether different experience!
It's FX Radio! No, really?

Mental Photo Album

Greetings. Its kind of unusual for me to be this coherent on a Saturday morning, since I'm usually barely awake or catching up on sleep. Make no mistake, after this is posted, I'll probably head back to bed. However, I felt somewhat reflective earlier and thought I'd submit this.

I was reading over the blog entries for my friend from Houston One Graham's View, looking for a particular link he had put up some time ago, and getting caught up in the memories.

I'm sure some blind people have photo albums, but by their nature, photo albums don't seem like the kinds of things that a blind person could get something out of. Oh sure, I'll probably have the obligatory album at some point, with pictures of myself and hopefully my family in them. However, for me at least, I get more enjoyment out of reading about things rather than looking at them. Besides, when you read something, you can create your own picture in your mind of how you think it should look, rather than the way it might actually look in the photo. As I was reading over the entries for OGV, I was remembering.

Though he hasn't made an entry in about 2 months, due to his new full time job no doubt (and I certainly know how that goes; I feel fortunate making these weekend posts as it is), it was cool reading over his past entries. That's a trip down memory lane, as they say, to read over entries from as much as a year ago and read what was happening and what people thought at the time. Indeed, the same emotions well up in me if I read over my own blog entries, remembering the highs an lows of a given time period.

So, in closing, even though I might not have a photo album, I think I've got something better in this blog. I have no idea how many people might read this on a daily or weekly basis. While that information might be neat to know at some point, that's not why I write this blog. No, I write it to chronicle my life and things I think are interesting. Hopefully they are interesting for the reader as much as they are to me. And, I suppose, I also chronicle them for myself, so I can go back and read a written record of what happened at certain points.

Quite reflective for this time of day, :) Well, I've got a couple of other ideas for posts later today or tomorrow. We'll see what develops until then. For now though, enjoy reading this blog or any other blog and going through that mental photo album.

Friday, June 9

Hadley Web Seminar on Employment

Greetings. I received the following announcement via email. Please excuse any formatting errors. Enjoy.

June 7, 2006

The Hadley School for the Blind
(800) 323-4238

Best-Selling Author to Give Web Seminar on Employment Richard Nelson
Bolles, author of the best-selling job-hunting book in history, "2006:
What Color is Your Parachute?" will participate in
series of Internet lectures hosted by The Hadley School for the Blind,
at 3:30 p.m. Central Time, Thursday, June 15. Participants can listen to
Mr. Bolles field questions on finding a successful career, disabilities
in the workplace and connecting to your spiritual life.

This seminar is free, but registration is required for this interactive
seminar. To register, go to
and follow
the "Registration" link. You will receive a confirmation e-mail
containing instructions to log in to the seminar. Please note
registration will only be taken online, and not by phone.

The 2006 edition of "What Color Is Your Parachute?" addresses finding
meaningful work and discovering your life's mission. His motivation for
the book was to make job information easily accessible.

Born in Milwaukee, Mr. Bolles is hailed as "America's top career expert"
by Modern Maturity Magazine, and "the one responsible for the
renaissance of the career counseling profession in the United States
over the past decade" by Money Magazine. He has sold more than 8 million
books. The Library of Congress recently placed "Parachute" on its list
of "25 books that have shaped readers lives" throughout history. The
only other living author on that list is Maya Angelou.

Technical requirements to participate in the seminar are:
For Windows: Windows98, ME, 2K, XP or 2003 (XP recommended) system,
Pentium 3 500 MHz or better CPU, 512 MB RAM, Internet Explorer 6 or
FireFox, JavaScript and cookies enabled in the browser, 56K or faster
Internet connection (broadband recommended), full duplex audio device,
speakers, and microphone (optional).

For Macintosh: Mac OS 10.3 system or later, 512 MB Ram, Safari or
FireFox browser, JavaScript and cookies enabled in the browser, 56 K or
faster Internet connection (broadband recommended), full duplex audio
device, speakers, and microphone (optional).

Editor's Note: The Hadley School for the Blind is the single largest
worldwide distance educator of blind and visually impaired people. Since
its founding by William Hadley and Dr. E.V.L. Brown in 1920, all of
Hadley's distance education courses have been provided free of charge.
Today, the school serves more than 10,000 students annually in all 50
states and 100 countries. Hadley relies on contributions from
individuals, foundations and corporations to fund its programs. Visit us
on the Web at

Thursday, June 8

Article on Website Accessibility

Greetings. The following article only illustrates that we will continue to see problems with website accessibility until websites are accepted as a "place of public accommodation" as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990). Granted, the ADA came out before the Web, but if a website is not accessible/usable for me, then I'm being locked out and denied access to it. Even though there are many sites that might not seem like they would be of much concern to me as far as access goes, such as a photography site, Target is definitely not one of those. Read on and discover what's going on, why the blind are prevented from access to some sites, and what the future might hold. For the record, Southwest Airlines faced a similar situation several years ago, as far as their site not being accessible to the blind. In the end, the case was dismissed and there was no favorable result as far as accessibility.

May 08, 2006
(Computerworld) --
Bruce Sexton Jr. wants to be able to access the same Web content that anyone
else can. Because he can't, he now finds himself at the center of a
precedent-setting legal fight over Web site accessibility.
Bruce Sexton Jr.
Bruce Sexton Jr.

Sexton, who is legally blind, relies on software that reads his PC's screen
from left to right and top to bottom, skipping ahead when he uses
shortcuts. When he visits Target Corp.'s Web site, a robotic voice announces
staccato-style the presence of alternative text to describe images of the
retailer's logo and its "Target dog" mascot.

But the screen-reader software doesn't read the weekly list of special
offers on Target's Web site, Sexton said. He can't tell whether the numbers
he hears
on other parts of the home page correspond to products, files or something
else. Deeper into the site, he doesn't know which item goes with which
"It's difficult to find anything," Sexton said. As a result, he no longer
tries to buy goods from the Target site, which for a long time he couldn't
anyway because, he said, it required the use of a mouse.

Sexton has joined the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) as a plaintiff
in a lawsuit that charges Target with violating the federal Americans With
Act (ADA) and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act and Disabled Persons Act.

The lawsuit, scheduled for a hearing next month at U.S. District Court in
San Francisco, could have a broad impact because Target's site is hardly the
one that could be accused of having access barriers, according to attorneys
for the plaintiffs.

Web 2.0 Challenge

The move from text-based to visually oriented Web content has been tough on
the blind, and now there's a new threat on the horizon. The shift to dynamic
"Web 2.0" technology, which Gartner Inc. predicts will be pervasive by the
end of next year, could exacerbate the problem of inaccessible sites.

A Web 2.0 application might make use of Asynchronous JavaScript and XML
(AJAX) and Dynamic HTML to update information in a table without having to
an entire Web page. But screen readers, magnifiers and other assistive
technology may not know which parts of the page have changed unless
developers take
steps to make sure the tools can glean that information.

Jeff Bishop, an application systems analyst at the University of Arizona in
Jeff Bishop, an application systems analyst at the University of Arizona in

"It's very, very, very scary," said Jeff Bishop, an application systems
analyst at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "Before, so what? You had a
[alternative-text] tag, but at least you knew there was an image. You could
click on it, and maybe you could figure out what it was. Now, you don't even
know where to click. You don't know how to interact."

Bishop, who is blind, and other advocates for people with disabilities
aren't expecting an immediate fix. "We want to make sure companies are at
least hearing
what our concerns are," he said. "I'm not looking for a solution tomorrow.
Even if it takes two years, that's fine with me, as long as I know they're
on it."

But it's unclear whether many companies are doing so.

IBM, joined by other vendors, is leading a dynamic accessible Web content
initiative within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). One proposal outlines
development syntax for mapping information about the elements of Web
applications to an operating system's accessibility API so screen readers
and other
assistive technology will know what has changed on a Web page. A second
proposal details the means for adding semantic role information to a Web
so screen readers can identify rich objects, such as menus and tab panels,
on pages.

But the proposals are still in draft form, and adoption remains uncertain.
The Mozilla Foundation added support for the technology starting with its
1.5 browser. Microsoft Corp., however, has said its upcoming Internet
Explorer 7.0 release won't support it, and the company has made no
commitments for
future editions of the browser.

Gartner analyst Ray Valdes has found that Fortune 500 companies have a very
low level of awareness about making their public Web sites accessible. Most
haven't modified their Web design and production methods and aren't thinking
about fixing their current sites because they assume that doing so would be
too costly, he said. They also haven't bothered to buy tools that could help
them improve accessibility, Valdes said.

The W3C released accessibility guidelines for Web authoring tools more than
six years ago, and it isn't aware of a single product that is fully
said Judy Brewer, director of the consortium's Web accessibility initiative.
But Brewer added that many of the newer authoring tools do have features
provide more support for producing accessible content. "And users should
demand even better," she said.

Slow Demand

There are also evaluation tools that can assess a Web site's accessibility.
One of the leading vendors of evaluation tools, Watchfire Corp., has no more
than 70 U.S.-based corporate customers and 30 international users, largely
from the governmental and financial sectors, for its enterprise-grade tool,
according to Mike Weider, the Waltham, Mass.-based company's chief
technology officer.

"We've long expected the accessibility market to grow more than it has. It
really hasn't taken off," Weider said. But the NFB-Target case could change
he added.

The allegations made against Target by the NFB and Sexton have set the stage
for a court showdown that could finally clear up the murky legal question of
whether the ADA, which was enacted in 1990, before the dawn of the Internet
era, applies to Web sites.

The lawsuit claims that because Target's site is difficult if not impossible
for the blind to use, the retailer is denying them equal access to the goods
and services it provides to customers without disabilities. The NFB this
week plans to file a motion for a preliminary injunction, asking the court
order Target to make its Web site accessible promptly.

Target two weeks ago updated a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the
laws in question don't apply to Web sites because they aren't "physical"
of public accommodation. The Minneapolis-based retailer further claimed that
applying the California statutes to its Web site, which is accessible to
countrywide, would violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Mazen Basrawi, a lawyer at Berkeley, Calif.-based Disability Rights
Advocates, a co-counsel for the plaintiffs, contended that the ADA applies
to any public
place where commercial activity occurs -- including Web sites. And even if
the law didn't provide such blanket coverage, it would apply to Target's
is integrated with the retailer's brick-and-mortar
stores, Basrawi said.

Secil Watson, senior vice president of customer experience for the Internet
services group at Wells Fargo & Co., said a good time for a company to think
about making its site accessible is when it's planning a major redesign.
It's "the right thing to do," she said.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo four years ago began its accessibility push
for people who are blind or visually impaired by making improvements to its
most popular pages. But Watson said it was a major restructuring a year
later that produced the most critical improvement: template-based pages that
to enforce design and development consistency. "What was good for the people
with disabilities was good for everybody," she said.

Wells Fargo used the W3C's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), but
Watson said the Web team didn't stop there. It added site-specific details
the more general WCAG directive and created a training document for the
company's designers and developers to apply to both internal and external

In addition, some of the bank's user-interface designers have been trained
in the use of screen readers so they can see the bank's external site from
perspective of a blind customer. "We're not just trying to make the site
accessible," Watson said. "We're trying to make it a decent experience."

Like other companies, Wells Fargo is interested in exploring the use of
DHTML and AJAX to create Web-based applications that could offer an even
online experience to end users. But Watson said that first the bank will
have to figure out how to make the new technologies accessible.

Finding the Time

Nate Koechley, a senior front-end engineer at Yahoo Inc., which has already
taken the AJAX and DHTML plunge, said learning to build accessibility
into applications developed with those technologies is mostly an issue of
finding enough time, given the intense, almost frantic atmosphere of Web
"Preserving and enriching accessibility is just another constraint of Web
design and engineering," he said.

Koechley added that the development team at Yahoo has a great in-house
resource -- Victor Tsaran, the company's accessibility program manager, who
is blind
himself. "Now we can go over to his cube and say, 'Hey, does this work for
you? Check it out,' " Koechley said.

Mike Paciello, founder of The Paciello Group LLP, a Nashua, N.H.-based
consulting firm that works to enhance the accessibility of software, said he
is optimistic
that the process of making applications accessible won't lag with
technologies like AJAX and DHTML to the degree that it has with other
technologies in
the past.

"Technology that supports people with disabilities is so far behind," he
said. "Whenever they start to get caught up, they get thrown back another
steps. [But] with AJAX, I don't think it will be five steps back because we
already have a handle on it. We're probably one or two steps back."

For Paciello, the lack of a dynamic leader to raise awareness about the need
for increased accessibility remains the larger problem.

And there's still much more work to be done, according to advocates for
people with disabilities. Sexton, for one, said that he still can spend
hours trying
to figure out whether a Web site is just difficult to navigate or not
accessible at all.

"It's frustrates me to no end," he said, "and it makes me feel that I'm not
able to do something that everybody else can."