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Showing posts from July, 2008

AxsJAX at Google

John Crossman (Benetech's Director of Engineering) and I attended an interesting and exciting Google Open Source talk on AxsJAX at Google this week, by Charles Chen (the developer of FireVox) and T.V. Raman (the developer of EMACSpeaks). They are tackling the challenge of making the richer Web more accessible. Since the web is now used for much more complicated things than simple static web pages, there have been many accessibility problems. The people who do web standards, the W3C, have a proposed standard that is in its early stages of drafting called Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA). It's already in Firefox 3, and is supposed to be in the next version of Internet Explorer. AxsJAX builds on this draft standard to make some tough web applications not only accessible, but even better in some ways for people with disabilities.

An example of this kind of challenge is with gmail. There's a lot going on in gmail that doesn't require going back to the Googl…

Austria conference on access technology

I just got back from a terrific week in Austria at the International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs conference. This is an academic conference on access technology, full of researchers trying out new things that will help people with disabilities.

My first day was hanging out at the Young Researchers seminar, which was organized by Professors Paul Blenkhorn (the UK's first professor of access tech) and the ICCHP host Klaus Miesenberger. It was fun to hear students and fresh Ph.Ds talking about their research.

I gave the opening keynote, on my main new theme, Raising the Floor. The goal is to get more people working to make this happen: getting access tech to every person in the world who needs it. People from all over Europe talked to me about their dreams for improved accessibility. And, there were many projects that definitely fell under the RTF umbrella. I met the developer behind WebVisum, which is getting much attention from blind people for i…

NFB and Amazon.com on Accessibility

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Last year, the National Federation of the Blind took on Amazon.com about the accessibility of their website, which NFB felt at one time had been quite accessible, but which had declined in accessibility. My impression was that this advocacy was linked to the Target department store lawsuit, because Amazon does the technical work behind the Target website, which has been inaccessible.

NFB got them to commit to work on accessibility. So, someone came from Amazon.com to speak about this at this years' NFB Convention in Dallas.

Craig Woods started by telling the big rocks, gravel, sand, water story, the one where after filling the jar with rocks, there's still room to add gravel, and then sand and finally water. The moral of the story is that if you want to work on your big priorities, you have to get them in your jar first, because otherwise the small stuff will keep you from getting to them.

The speech itself was pretty basic: Amazon cares about its customers above all else, a…

Miradi

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There's so many cool things going on at Benetech. One of the coolest has been the reaction to our brand new environmental project management software, Miradi. Miradi is a great example of how technology can be used to more fully benefit humanity: now in the field of improving the environment! Miradi just launched and we're busy signing up users!

I'm excited because it's another example of top-quality software created by our technical team in partnership with the conservation movement. We developed it in what's called an agile way, where we do frequent releases and actively engage users in shaping the software. So, spread the news to folks you know who need project management tools for environmental projects! Here's more information:

Benetech and the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) have released Miradi, a user-friendly software program that allows nature conservation practitioners to design, manage, monitor, and learn from their projects to more effe…