Tag Archives: job access with speech

Is your blog accessible to blind computer users?

My thanks to Chris Graham (AKA The Story Reading Ape) https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com, for drawing this article on why much of the internet is inaccessible to blind people to my attention, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-49694453.

As many of you who follow my blog will know, I lost the majority of my eyesight at 18-months-old. I am unable to read print and use software called Job Access with Speech (JAWS), which converts text into speech and braille enabling me to use a Windows computer or laptop. For anyone interested in finding out about JAWS, please follow this link, https://www.freedomscientific.com/products/software/jaws/.

The article linked to above, details a number of problems faced by blind users of the internet, many of which I have experienced whilst navigating the World Wide Web. For example, the piece explains how blind computer users can be faced with unlabelled links on a webpage meaning that what is heard is next to useless. I have myself been faced with a page where JAWS reads “link, link, link”, meaning that the only way in which I can ascertain what the content of a particular link may be is by clicking on said link. This is, obviously a very tedious undertaking and, in many instances I have given up on the site in question and visited a more accessible alternative.

Turning specifically to sites hosted directly on WordPress (such as my own blog), these are, on the whole accessible. For example all the social media sharing buttons on kmorrispoet.com are labelled so anyone using a screen reader such as JAWS will hear “Twitter, Facebook” etc voiced by JAWS. Likewise the comments form is clearly labelled as such meaning that anyone logged into a WordPress account can easily post a comment.

In contrast I have found that many of the self-hosted WordPress sites are not as accessible as those hosted directly on WordPress. For example I often come across unlabelled sharing buttons on self-hosted sites so the only way in which I can determine what the button in question may be, is by actually clicking on it.

Whilst some comments forms on self-hosted sites are labelled with fields such as “comment”, “your name”, “email address”, others are not. In the latter instance the JAWS (or other screen reader user) is forced to guess what each field is or, more often simply to give up on their intention of posting a comment and navigate away from the site/blog in question.

In my experience the vast majority of bloggers care about their readers and wish to ensure that everyone is able to access their sites equally and enjoy the same ability to participate in discussions. However, unless a blogger is themselves blind (or knows a blind screen reader user), its perfectly possible that they have little (if any idea) as to how blind web users access their site/blog.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has links to useful guidance explaining how webmasters can ensure that their sites are accessible to those with site loss. For anyone who is unsure whether their blog and/or website is accessible, you may find it helpful to visit here, https://www.sightadvicefaq.org.uk/independent-living/accessible-website.

Kevin

Link, link, link – Is your site accessible?

I am blind, and use Job Access with Speech (JAWS) software which converts text into speech and braille enabling me to use a Windows computer or laptop, (http://www.freedomscientific.com/products/software/jaws/). One of the problems I face when navigating the web is the lack (on some sites) of clearly labelled sharing buttons. For example I have lost count of the number of occasions on which I have come across something along the following lines:
Link
Link
Link
Link
(with none of the links being labelled). In such a situation (assuming that I wish to share the content in question), I have no option other than to click on each (unlabelled) link/button until I locate Twitter, Facebook or whatever sharing option I wish to utilise.

When faced with the above situation, I sometimes give up and click away from the post (or other content) without sharing.

The vast majority of site owners (where unlabelled buttons exist) would, I am sure not wish to disadvantage people with visual impairments and are (in most cases) unaware that their site is not fully accessible.

With this post can I please request my fellow internet users/readers to check that the sharing buttons are labelled correctly so that a user of screen reading software such as myself can easily use Twitter, Facebook and other sharing facilities. There is much good will out there and (as previously stated) I know that the vast majority of site owners wish to make their site accessible to all users. So, if you could please take some time to check the accessibility of your site that would be greatly appreciated.

Kevin

Launch of audio versions of “Toby’s Tales” by Victoria (Tori) Zigler

I’ve had poor eyesight all my life, and eventually – in my early 20s – lost the last of my sight to the Glaucoma I was born with. So I’m no stranger to those times when people without vision problems were doing things I couldn’t be a part of. Not to mention, those times when tasks people with sight take for granted were difficult – or even impossible – for me to do with my poor, and later lack of, sight.

Sometimes there really is no way for a blind person to do something a sighted person can do easily. But often there is. All it takes is a bit of creative thinking, a willingness to adapt the method used to do it, and maybe some special equipment or tools to make it possible.

Take the screen reader Kevin and I use for our computers, for example. Without JAWS (Job Access With Speech) I couldn’t have written this post, and sent it to Kevin, and he couldn’t have put it on his blog for you to read. In fact, without JAWS – and the fact it makes it possible for us to use our computers in the way we do – there wouldn’t even be a blog for you to read, let alone a post from me to go up on it. Sure, there are still things we need help from a sighted friend or family member to do. But it opens up a world of possibilities for us that would never otherwise have existed. Without JAWS, the day I lost my sight would have been the day I lost my ability to access the internet.

There are similar situations in other aspects of the life of a blind person. From simple things like pairing socks, to more complicated things like the above example using JAWS. It’s something that’s just a fact; it’s just the way things are.

But there are – as I mentioned – often ways to make it possible for a blind person to do things for themselves, or to be included when they otherwise might not be able to be. I explore some of these situations, as well as some possible solutions for them, in my “Toby’s Tales” series.

The Toby’s Tales series is a five book series that follows a little boy named Toby’s efforts to adjust after sight loss. I published the first book as an eBook in 2012, with the other four following quickly on its heals, and later made a paperback version of each book available. Now – with the help of the talented Joseph A. Batzel – I’ve also made them available as audiobooks.

Joseph has done an excellent job of bringing Toby’s stories to life. At least, I think so. If you buy the audiobooks, I hope you’ll agree.

Regardless of the format you’d prefer, if you’d like to grab copies so you can learn about the fears and frustrations Toby struggles with, here are the main places where you can buy the books:

Book 1 – Toby’s New World
Audible: http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-New-World-Audiobook/B074P7FV1M/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/229561
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519989
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-new-world-victoria-zigler/1113041202
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-new-world
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-new-world/9781476234342-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-new-world/id562790799
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-new-world-tobys-tales-volume-1-unabridged/id1270858515
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-New-World-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358902

Book 2 – Toby’s Monsters
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Monsters-Audiobook/B074SZ9BJX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/247103
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519996
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-monsters-victoria-zigler/1113744687
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-monsters
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-monsters/9781301157921-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-monsters/id574780594
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-monsters-tobys-tales-volume-2-unabridged/id1272267691
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Monsters-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358971

Book 3 – Toby’s Outing
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Outing-Audiobook/B074W95DRX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/251587
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520007
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-outing-victoria-zigler/1113846045
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-outing
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-outing/9781301643264-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-outing/id577001695
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-outing-tobys-tales-volume-3-unabridged/id1273856055
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Outing-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359046

Book 4 – Toby’s Games
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Games-Audiobook/B074WCT1W4/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/271594
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520032
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-games-victoria-zigler/1114302957
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-games
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-games/9781301441082-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-games/id595641562
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-games-tobys-tales-volume-4-unabridged/id1274236264
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Games-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359268

Book 5 – Toby’s Special School
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Special-School-Tobys-Tales-Volume-5-Audiobook/B0756Q5KB1/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/281507
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520068
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-special-school-victoria-zigler/1114473423
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-special-school
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-special-school/9781301489220-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-special-school/id600171798
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-special-school-tobys-tales-volume-5-unabridged/id1277169221
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Special-School-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359336

You can also find the books on Goodreads.

Book 1: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15992610-toby-s-new-world
Book 2: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16098832-toby-s-monsters
Book 3: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16127032-toby-s-outing
Book 4: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17209761-toby-s-games
Book 5: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17314257-toby-s-special-school

***~~~***

About the author:
Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK. Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, has a very vivid imagination, and spends a lot of time in fictional worlds; some created by her, others created by other authors. When she remembers to spend some time in the real world, it’s mostly to spend time with her hubby and pets, though sometimes to indulge in other interests that capture her attention from time to time. To date she has published 8 poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the near future. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II.

Author links:
Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk
Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler
Google+: https://plus.google.com/106139346484856942827

About the narrator:
Joseph Batzel has a BA and an MA from Brigham Young University in Film and Theater. He is also a professional actor for stage and film for over thirty years. Joseph has over 150 voice- over credits including radio, TV, audiobooks, and animation. He has traveled extensively throughout the US teaching voice over workshops. Joseph is a dialectician and can perform most American regional dialects and most foreign accents.

Mr. Batzel has just joined Deyan audio one of the world’s largest Independent producer of Audiobooks as one of their narrators. He is married to his wife Alice of forty-four years, she is a published playwright and working on her first novel. They have two sons and five grandchildren. He presently lives in Brigham City, Utah where he currently works as an adjunct instructor at Utah State University teaching courses in Creative Arts and Public Speaking.