Monday, January 30, 2006

The Internet is becoming harder to use for the handicapped

Yes folks it is.  You have seen them for yourself.  The ones that think using just flash to build their websites is so cool they make their whole websites in flash only.  They forget the ones using text to speech software.  Or... are they ignoring them?  Everyone spews of making the Internet more resourceful. Chock it full of content, and use lots of eye candy.  But no one I believe has even considered whom will loose the most if this happens.  If you use flash on your website, then you are crippling the blind, the ones that are paralyzed, the ones that have muscle diseases, and the ones that have severe nerve diseases. This is just naming a few of the ones you will hurt.
If the Internet keeps on the same path then one day these people will no longer have their outlet.  They will be forced off the Internet.  Not even the best of text to speech software will be able to help them.  As of right now there are 57,600,000 flash pages online when I did a search on Google.  I don't know the percentage of how many of these are full flash websites, or how many of these consist of just one page etc.  I do know that I have come across many websites that now are full flash, and they have no alternate link included for those that prefer nonflash.  Is your website one of these full flash websites? 
 The ones to really miss out the most are the blind.  They miss out because the text to speech can only read out loud what the page is about if your descriptive enough. This includes pictures that have alt text.  Yes these software are getting better at reading text, but they allocate so many dollars to be in a grant to go towards users that need this type software.  If there is no grants available, then they have to use a alternate method to read text online.  The software is very expensive.  The cheap or free ones only read you can't edit etc, I haven't come across one as of yet that was free or reduced price that would read pages and allow them to work online also on documents etc.  Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8 standard is $99.00 for the cd version limited because it only works with a very few software.  their Preferred version is $199.99 on cd and has a list of software it will work with.  The best way to find out how limited a handicapped person is online, is to try the software out.  Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8  You can install Lynx Browser Lynx Browser  this will give you some idea on what the blind have to face online.  But for every text to speech software there is, there are limitations depending on the version, rather if its a lite version or full, etc.  Why do they get the lite version? Because this software is not cheap.  same goes if the text to speech software is very old.  And Lynx can only be used as a example  for you to see what a text to speech will pic up.  If you don't see the page on Lynx, then they wont pick up the page on a few of the text to speech software for the blind.   Synapse list quite a few software for you to check out that is geared towards a person depending on their handicap. Some of this software has a trial version.  Actually most do. 
You should be setting up alternate WebPages not using flash or fancy script.  We have brilliant minds online struggling to get content. They may have less than a perfect body, but they deserve to have a Internet just as much as you do.  Lets please don't forget them. 

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